Hi, I’m Liam – A Real Talk Comic Book

Liam is navigating the world of dating, love, and sex. It can be tricky when parents find your birth control, and it can get depressing when you try to meet women but no-one’s interested in you. Still, Liam has found some resources that work for him – and he has plans for a better future.

Read and download a paper version of this comic here.

What We Talk About And Why

How and Where to Meet New People

  • How some people move from that initial meeting to dating.
  • How some people move from casual dating to longer term commitments.
  • How people break up. How people recover from break ups.

 

Many people we support are interested in meeting people for friendship and dating. They may have limited opportunities to socialize, and limited information about where & when people tend to meet and mingle. This sometimes leads to things like asking strangers on the bus out on a date. They may have little context for how relationships progress and change. This sometimes leads to things like planning a wedding right after getting someone’s phone number.

In our videos, people of all abilities discuss where they met their partners, and how their relationships progressed over time. This gives a bit more nuanced information about dating than we get to see in a typical TV sitcom or romantic comedy film.

Rejection

Everyone experiences rejection. People with cognitive disabilities likely experience it more than most. They get turned down for dates. Staff who they are close to move on to other jobs. It can feel terrible. In our videos, people talk about their experiences of rejection, and their recovery from rejection. Hearing these stories can bring hope and build resilience.

 

Safer Sex and Contraception

Some adults with cognitive disabilities are having sex. Some of them may be having consensual  sex that their support networks know about. Some may be having consensual sex that their support networks do not know about. Some may be experiencing sexual abuse.

People in each of these situations may have more options to prevent unplanned pregnancies or prevent STIs if they have information about contraception and safer sex. This information can save lives.

Providing a person with information about contraception and safer sex is not the same thing as recommending that they should have sex. Ideally a person should have information about contraception and safer sex long before they actually begin having sex. So even people with cognitive disabilities  who are NOT having sex can benefit from having information on contraception and safer sex.

 

Pleasure and Sensuality

We can get so focused on talking about the risks of sex (like pregnancy or assault or STIs) that we forget that many people like to have sex (alone in masturbation or with others) because it feels pleasurable. Talking about pleasure in sex acknowledges one of the main reasons why people choose to have it.

People with cognitive disabilities are often denied information about how sex can be pleasurable. This can leave them with the impression that it’s a dangerous thing best left alone – thus denying them the opportunity to make an informed decision about whether sex is something they want to pursue.

Many people who are having partnered sex are discouraged from valuing their own pleasure. They may be having sex in ways that are pleasurable for the other person, but not for them. Talking about pleasure makes it a valid thing to want to get out of sex, and to negotiate for in sexual relationships.

There are lots of products out there like toys, lubricant, and erotica that many people use to increase their sexual pleasure (alone in masturbation or with others). People with cognitive disabilities who are having solo or partnered sex are often denied access to information about these products. This reduces their potential for pleasure. It can also lead to injury. For example, people sometimes injure their genitals by using slippery but caustic products as lubricants. (shampoos, detergents, chemically perfumed lotions etc.) Safer products specifically designed for this purpose are available, and people deserve to know about them so they don’t hurt themselves.

Our videos embrace sexual pleasure as valid and positive, but they also acknowledge that people have varied experiences with sex, and that there are many nonsexual ways people can experience pleasure and intimacy with their partners.

 

Where to Get Information About Sex

Sex education happens to everybody every day, whether we like it or not. We are bombarded with images, messages, and ideas about sex from our televisions, billboards, iPods, computers, and magazines. This ‘education’ is factually unreliable, and it often reinforces a particular value set. Some people are objectified. Others are ridiculed or erased. This ‘education’ is also a one-way monologue. It’s not a dialogue. There isn’t room for questioning or reflection.

In the midst of all this, we could all use someone reliable and trustworthy to talk to about sexuality. For people with cognitive disabilities, picking the right person or resource is important. Our videos discuss what qualities to look for in a confidante. We also list services that provide accurate, agenda-free sexual health information. You can also find this information on our Resourcespage.

We also discuss who NOT to talk to about sex. (Strangers are usually a bad choice, for example.)