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I have an older brother who is pretty far in the disability spectrum and have been hoping for some advice. He has Hypoplasia of the cerebellum which has rendered him mute and unable to walk with I guess you can call autistic traits… that’s the best way I can describe it, it’s a pretty rare disorder.
Being the second child I’ve always acted as secondary caretaker next to my mom for my brother’s care, and having watched him grow up from an emotional teenage boy and mature to adulthood I’ve wondered about whether he’s missing out on those things that which carers shouldn’t speak of. I know because you guys have been covering this topic speaking out for this growingly public community of disabled individuals taking control over their lives on your website that this topic is at least coming to the forefront which is awesome given the stigmas.
But for those individuals that have a more difficult time communicating or are just farther up in the disability spectrum, do you have any advice? This is an extremely complicated topic I know.
He loves magazines and used to have a big crush on certain actresses, would it be weird getting him x-rated mags? I just recently started broaching this subject with my mother, who’s had a hard time in the past with doctors giving poor or entirely wrong diagnoses on my brother’s symptoms i.e. proclaiming he’s def despite loving music so for such a grey area it seems like a far fetched topic to broach with them. (more often than not doctors will answer inquiries from my mother with “really you know just about better than we do”) So we’re pretty much in the dark, there’s not much input out in the media yet and really it’s sort of a pioneering topic so I figured I’d send a shout out to you guys since you seem to have had some experience with this. I just don’t want to do something that might inadvertently freak him out or get him misguided since I don’t know how I can teach him whats inappropriate or not.
Any input helps, and good job to you guys for what your doing.
Thank you so much for your message and kind words. Firstly, it’s amazing that you are looking out for your brother and all of his needs, rather than just the ones that society deems appropriate! You couldn’t be more ‘spot on’ with what you say, and the way that disability and sex is portrayed needs to change… and quickly!!
In terms of how you can help your brother and what may be deemed appropriate, my response would be that that is entirely up to you as you also need to feel comfortable with what you are assisting with, too. Some relations and friends of people with disabilities do help them to explore their sexuality with x-rated mags or sensual videos, we’ve also had questions regarding masturbation and seeing sex workers. The answer is that there’s no right or wrong way to deal with your brother’s sexual needs, as long as both him and you are comfortable with whatever you decide.
In my opinion though, these magazines sound like they’d be the perfect ‘ice breaker’ for you, your brother and your family. If nothing else, you’re showing your brother that you are there for him and recognise him as a man with desires, and this is quite something when others can just see disability.
Have you seen our ‘Undressing Disability’ video? It can be found here and documents a really powerful story in a lovely way and I think you and your family may benefit from watching it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RwSsPiCEI-0
Anything else I can help with, just shout. I’m always on hand to discuss these things further and in more detail if you’d like to do that. Fingers crossed for a great experience for all of you!
1. Focus on your Assets…. Be that a winning smile, a cracking sense of humour or the gift of the gab – there are many things that define you aside from your impairment.
2. Patience is a Virtue … Slow and steady often wins the race. Things make take more time and effort with a disability, but man, the reward is sweet (and maybe even sweeter, but I’ll never know!)
3. There are many perks to the job …. To balance out some of the shitty, painful days, there’s nothing quite like getting around Disneyland in a day, or getting to your car in 30 seconds in a thunderstorm.
4. It’s a great ‘tosser filter’ … Disability isn’t seen as very sexy to many people, but it’s great to know that anyone who is interested has enough about them to not care what anyone else thinks.
5. If you’ve got it, flaunt it… Actually, disability can be flipping sexy! And it’s up to you to show that. Go get ‘em, tiger.
For more information about our disability awareness training please visit enhancetheuk.org, follow us on twitter @enhancetheuk and find us on all social media channels – just search for Enhance the UK!