Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)
STIs are viruses or bacteria. They don’t have brains, so they don’t have any opinions on our sex lives. They’re not punishment for ‘bad behaviour’ any more than catching a cold is punishment for going out to a coffee shop where someone else has a cold. They’re just tiny organisms that have evolved an ingenious way to pass from one person to another.
STIs are just a fact of life like colds or cavities. Nonetheless we may find them embarrassing, and not talk about them. Or we may exaggerate the dangers of STIs because we think it will scare people away from having sex and thus prevent them from ever catching one. (Statistics show this doesn’t work very well.)
If STIs go untreated, they can cause serious health problems. There are a number of reasons why people with cognitive disabilities may not get testing or treatment even if they are at risk:
- They may not have information about STIs because their supporters aren’t talking about them.
- They may know about them but feel ashamed to admit that they’ve caught one.
- They may feel terrified because they’ve heard how dangerous STIs can be.
- Their family or staff may not know that they’re having sex, so telling someone they want to get tested or treated means admitting they’re sexually active.
In our videos people give accurate medical information about STIs, and de-stigmatize them as simply a part of life. This can help people feel more comfortable to access any medical care they may need.
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.
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.