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We’ve had extensive conversations with people, with a variety of disabilities and sexual orientations that revealed confusion and frustration relating to sex and intimacy. If anything, the situation is even more confusing for those in their early teens growing up with a disability. Adolescence is an uncertain time for the abled-bodied; it is many times more difficult for someone with a disability that may have limited access to the resources and opportunities of able-bodied teenagers
Running sexual health workshops has shown us that people with disabilities are looking for a deeper intimacy. While it’s difficult to make generalizations, people with disabilities are not necessarily looking for sexual intercourse – the actual sexual act is a very small percentage of the sensual experience, after all. People want to find someone that cares for them, with whom they are able to become intimate in a safe, positive environment.
There are many alternatives to sexual intercourse, alternative sources of sensual pleasure that turn out to be more subtle, and a lot more complex. We can gain pleasure from giving other people sensual pleasure. Being able to sexually fulfil a partner changes the way people view themselves.
Barriers to hooking up with a like-minded partner can be psychological as much as physical. A man in his forties with a disability who, if truth be told has never dated, is going to need mentoring before being confident enough to meet that special person.
Taking things a little further, sexual surrogates can work through these anxieties and hang-ups with a client, with coaching techniques ranging from relaxation techniques to social skills. . . to intimate touch.
Of course, anybody can visit a massage parlour or call an escort service, but most sex workers in these locations do not have experience of working with clients with disabilities. It can become an awkward situation. In addition, there may be unwritten rules that may prevent kissing, for example. (Hint: ask if they offer girlfriend or boyfriend experience GFE/BFE.)
EASE Canada works closely with Vancouver-based surrogates Sensual Solutions to offer a full range of intimate mentoring services. We find them to be a caring, compassionate group of people who are familiar with the needs of people with disabilities.
EASE, which stands for Equitable and Accessible Sexual Expression, works on many different levels. We raise awareness of issues and advocate for people with disabilities, and educate people in the ways they can achieve intimacy. We work with services that provide surrogacy, if that is required, but mostly we provide mentoring and peer networking. We work with the province’s most established disability organizations, including the Disability Foundation and Spinal Cord Injury BC.