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Lets Talk About Sex:

Discussing the Topics of Sex, Protection, and/or Sexuality from Three Unique Viewpoints

Panel of Speakers
Ryan Mercer (Developmental Disability Advocate) Regina Sullivan (Sibling Advocate) Bethany Stevens (Sexologist)

Introduction Person with DD perspective Sibling Perspective Sexologist Perspective Q and A Contact Information

Sexuality is a socially taboo subject; adding disability to the equation often provokes silence and fear It is estimated that almost 50% of people with DD/ID never engage in sexual encounters, nor do they receive any sexual health education. Lack of education leaves people with DD/ID in a unsafe/unprotected position.

Fresh: Disabled and Looking Love

A clip from a film that follows people with DD/ID on their quest to find love. (We will go to screen share to view video)

Ryan Mercer
(Developmental Disability Advocate)
A Georgian and inspirational public speaker, graduated from South Gwinnett High School in 2005. He feels it's his calling to encourage others to listen to and educate themselves and others about all aspects of disabilities. When Ryan was 10 year old, he and his grandfather organized a gospel concert to raise funds for people with disabilities. Throughout the years, he has participated and spoken at numerous engagements and his personal mission is to bridge the gap between society and the disability community.

Sexuality is Natural for EVERYONE

Just because your children or siblings have Autism (or any sort of disability) that doesn't mean they don't need to be educated about sex. We have the same desires as able-bodied people.

Funny Story!
My brothers were watching adult films at the age of eighteen. My mother told me that I didn't need to watch them because it would be "hard for me to get sex." This is the typical ableism I'm talking about.

I am not made of glass!

Many people are afraid that they are going to hurt or "break" me, but the truth of the matter is, they're not.

Regina Sullivan (Sibling Advocate)

Her oldest brother, Plato, diagnosed with Autism at the age of four. She works as a GRA for the Center of Leadership in Disability (CLD) and is a GaLEND trainee. She is a founding member of the Georgia Sibling Connection which is a chapter of the Sibling Leadership Network and supported by the CLD.
Mission: To provide siblings of individuals with disabilities the information, support, and tools to advocate with their brothers and sisters and to promote the issues important to them and their entire families.

Founded in 2007, the SLN has held annual conferences to connect siblings and professionals

Developed a policy white paper with recommendations on policy and advocacy, research, and services and supports

Key partnerships include:
Sibling Support Project Self Advocates Becoming Empowered The Arc Autism NOW, a national initiative of The Arc

State Chapters
Alabama DC Georgia Illinois Massachusetts New Hampshire New York Ohio Tennessee Utah Wisconsin

For more information on how to start a state chapter of the SLN, contact Ashley Coulter at

Join the SLN

Find us on Facebook at



A Siblings Perspective
Siblings concerns for their brothers or sisters with DD/ID are different than that of a parent. We may not be as protective and want our sibling to experience all the attributes of a full and happy life. We view our siblings as equals with abilities and possibilities parents may not be able to see. Our siblings may be more comfortable about coming to us about questions and concerns with sexual health or problems than other people in their life.

A Siblings Perspective (continued)

We struggle from concerns about whether to play match-maker for our sibling or state disapproval of relationships. We struggle with who will care for the offsprings our siblings may have. We struggle with trying to please parents and our sibling with DD, especially if they have different views about sexuality.

How My Family Addressed Sexuality

My mother work for the County Extension service - her job was teaching teenagers and preteen sexual reproduction and protection. She never made the distinction between her children (on this topic) and we all were taught the subject at the same time. Discussing sexuality was not difficult in my family because my mother asked every question asked.

My Brother
My brother has a very good understanding of sex and protection. My concern now is that he finds someone that enjoys his company and will not take advantage of him. Share story about: Woman with three kids

My Brothers Relationship
He had a good relationship with a single mother of three children. We have no idea where he met her or her intension with him; however, he was happy and helped her raise her children. There was one occasion when my brothers truck broke down and we found him with his little adopted family stuck on this side of the road in his truck. Their relationship lasted for about six years until she left and moved to Washington State.

Moral of the Story

As a sibling, you sometimes have to sit quietly by and let your sibling live their live. When you do, you find out that they have a lot of love to give and can contribute to the happiness of others. Our role (as siblings) should be to inform and protect, but only to a certain extent.

Bethany Stevens (Sexologist)

Bethany Stevens is a faculty member and policy analyst for the Center for Leadership in Disability (CLD) in the Institute of Public Health at Georgia State University. She earned a B.A. in Art History and a J.D. at the University of Florida. She earned a M.A. in Sexuality Studies at San Francisco State University and is a member of the CA Bar.

Sexual Health
Sexual health is a state of physical, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality. It requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination and violence.

Common DisSex Stereotypes

Assumed to be hypersexual and/or in need of control of sexuality. Sexual Education leads to sexual behavior. The perpetual child syndrome Legal and social issues around preventing parenthood. People with DD/ID have more to worry about than sexuality.

Communication Tips
Communication about the right to say Yes or NO, safety issues, self-love, anatomy basics Encourage learning through reinforcement not punishment Start small & break down concepts Use graphics, books, and experts Find sibling, parent and/or self-advocate allies Practice, practice, practice communicating with others about sexuality

Sexuality and PWDs (Autism, DD & ID specific materials) Sexuality resources for parents of people with DD/ID opmental_disabilities/index.html Sexuality & Disability Consortium

Contact Information
Regina Sullivan: Ryan Mercer:

Bethany Stevens:





Information & Referral Call Center: 1-855-828-8476

Next Webinar: Tuesday, May 22, 2012, 2:00-3:00 PM, EDT Webinar from Self-Advocates Becoming Empowered PowerPoint/Recording: Email Phuong ( ) to request materials!