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Being ADHD: Five Things I Wished Someone Had Told Me

By Sex & disability, Undressing Disability

By Carolyn DeBarra

When it comes to being neurodivergent, I am very proud of the way my brain works. I was diagnosed at the age of 10 with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) and Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD) along with Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD). The combination of all three can be a blessing, but it can be a curse too.

It can be really difficult being neurodivergent especially as so much of the world doesn’t cater to different neurotypes. Combine that with the fact that so many of our conditions can be so different from each other. My ADHD is very different from the next person’s.

While we do understand a lot more now than back in the day when I was first diagnosed, there are so many areas of neurodiversity that we hear little about.

Here are five things that I wish people told me about ADHD.

1 – It’s okay to feel grief or anger

ADHD diagnoses are on the rise at the moment as more people recognise the signs of the condition through social media and articles. It has prompted many people to seek a diagnosis or speak to a GP. While many feel relief and a sense of power in knowing their diagnosis, there can also be a feeling of grief.

When I started to learn about my condition as an adult, I felt sadness at understanding how I could have overcome challenges by accepting my own neurodivergence. I also felt angry for not getting help sooner. I also felt grief for my childhood where I struggled as much as I did. All of these feelings are not only valid but part of the process.

Thanks to the emotional dysregulation of ADHD, processing the range of emotions associated with a diagnosis can be difficult. It’s important to take time, talk it out with loved ones and let yourself feel how you need to. But do know this, it’s completely normal and you are not alone if you feel sadness at your diagnosis.

2- Your workplace can and will make reasonable adjustments for you

In the past, I’ve made mistakes due to my ADHD but then, we are all human at the end of the day. Despite my difficulties with certain tasks, I’m a good employee with tons to offer that can be utilised by a company. However, I often worry that an ADHD disclosure will put employers off.

While I may have hidden this in the past, I now refuse to pretend. Your company can make reasonable adjustments for you and it is completely okay to ask them to do so. There is no timeframe on this. If you didn’t disclose the second you were hired, you can ask at a later stage.

There is no set list of things that can make your workday easier but having a look at what causes you difficulties is a good place to start. Simple things like being able to take a break in a long meeting because I am struggling to sit still help me.

There are grants available such as Access to Work which can help people change their workplace to make things easier. It could be money towards software or physical items such as desks or chairs. You are worth it. All you need to do is ask even if it’s the last thing you feel like doing.

3 – Postural Sway and bad balance

When I was a kid I had the worst balance which occasionally caused me great panic. While I always thought this was down to a fear of heights, I’ve realised that it goes deeper than that.

My ADHD plays a part in bad balance because those with neurological conditions can have poor motor control. My body struggles to find its centre of gravity so this means I have a harder time balancing while standing still. I often find heights, patterns, lights or movements can be disorientating so I can lose my balance while not moving. Over time, this has also been exacerbated by my anxiety as the two work in tandem to destroy my day. I often find I need an arm to hold or a banister or something to steady myself when it’s particularly bad.

I wish someone had told me when I was younger that this is not only okay but it’s totally normal.

4 – Caffeine affects you differently

Anyone who meets me for breakfast is horrified at how many coffees I can put away in a short space of time. It’s truly a sight to behold as I throw six or seven back easily.

While most neurotypical folk would be bouncing off the ceiling by now, or throwing up, I am absolutely fine with the mildest of buzzes going on.

You would think that the last thing a person with a hyperactivity disorder would need is a stimulant but you would be wrong. A lot of the drugs to treat ADHD are stimulant based because our brains devour them differently.

Caffeine stimulates the body’s central nervous system and boosts dopamine production. ADHD brains are thought to have lower levels of dopamine so no longer we love a coffee break. Dopamine helps us with concentration and focus. So if we have lower levels of dopamine compared to neurotypical folk, stands to reason we may need more coffee to get us to focus. So hence why my seven coffees don’t touch the sides for me.

Although make no mistake, there is a sweet spot and for me it’s usually around eight.

5. – ADHD can go hand in hand with other disorders

It is estimated that about 40% of people with ADHD have oppositional defiance disorder like me. In my daily life that means I can be defensive, anti-authority and a bit combative when I don’t
want to be or intend to be.

ADHD can often be diagnosed alongside other conditions such as mood disorders, learning disorders, sleep problems, anxiety or tics and Tourette's syndrome. It’s also worth noting that substance abuse disorders are higher among ADHD people than neurotypical people. This means we have a higher chance of developing issues with alcohol, drugs or nicotine. I wish before I started smoking I had known this.

There is power in knowing the full picture post-diagnosis as it can help you to explain how you behave or feel. However, if there are other conditions in the picture, it could affect what medications you need or how things work for you. It can be difficult as ADHD presents very differently in each person so sometimes it can mask symptoms so keeping a diary can be helpful to note what is happening.

Disability Dating Sites and Masturbation

By The Love Lounge

 

The Question

I have Cerebral Palsy and find it difficult to have a normal dating and sex life and would love your advice. There are two main areas I am struggling with. The first is connecting with other like minded people – I am a permanent wheelchair user but have full capacity and find that other disabled dating sites etc often try to match me with women who have learning difficulties. I am currently at University and would really like to connect with other disabled daters who are at a similar life stage/experiences. Do you know of any groups etc I can join… because Tinder really isn’t working!

The other area I would like advice on is support around masturbating so that I am still able to have some privacy despite having a care team. I want to feel sexually fulfilled, but currently this takes up huge amounts of time and energy as I have issues with fine motor control in my hands. Are you aware of any sex aids that would enable me to masturbate independently despite this issue?

I really appreciate your support with this.

Riley

The Answer

Hi Riley,
Ok, so it sounds like you’re wanting to date a girl who is also disabled, is that right? I can see how Tinder would be limited there…
I’ve found a few sites for disabled daters –

Dating Sites for Disabled Daters

DisabilityMatch.co.uk

They pride themselves on being the number one website for UK disabled singles. You could find your perfect match amongst DisabilityMatch’s vibrant disabled community. Meeting new people has never been so easy, especially for those with disabilities and you can sign up today for free!

Disabled-Dating.co.uk

This is a newer dating site for disabled and non-disabled singletons! Disabled-Dating is run by Tom, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis when he was younger. He created Disabled-Dating after finding happiness online and wanted to share his success with people like him!

EnableDating.co.uk

The membership is completely free, and once you’ve signed up you can instantly browse profiles and become an active member of the community. It has a fantastic chat feature and video messaging if you decide to take your budding relationship a bit further!

DisabledDating4u.co.uk

Will put you in touch with like-minded people. The site has grown a lot in the last few years due to their close community of disabled daters.

 

Masturbation

Now with regards to aids for masturbation we have a few ideas!  Also, we’re so close to launching our own range of accessible sex toys, so definitely keep an eye out for those on our website and social media. They are remote controlled and have large buttons which can be operated with the chin if dexterity is compromised, so that you can be as independent as possible with them. This should massively improve the struggle and fatigue aspect for you – no one needs that when all you’re wanting to do is relax and enjoy!

In the meantime, check out these toys:

  • Liberator makes Fleshlight mounts such as the ‘On the Mission’ which gives the user the chance of a hands free experience.
  • There’s also the Keon by Kiiroo which is an automated masturbator.
  • The Hot Octopuss Pulse range of products were designed for people with Spinal Cord Injuries in mind to help them reach orgasm and ejaculate. The Design of the Pulse toys even work if you do not have an erection. They require no use of hands once the toy is in place and turned on. Some of the Pulse models come with remote controls which make it even easier to use.
  • Another option is the Suck O-Mat 2 Sucking Machine. Once the penis is in the sleeve it gives hands free pleasure. It can be controlled by remote control so can also be controlled by your partner as well. It is mains powered which means it is powerful, producing up to 200 suction impulses a minute.
  • The Handy is marketed as the ultimate Hand job machine which is another powerful mains powered Masturbator. The Handy comes with a dotted sleeve but can also be attached to other sleeves. It can also be controlled over the internet and also synchronised to some of the videos on the website. The handy is also compatible with a VR Headset.

And remember, you can book in a Love Lounge surgery for a free chat with us should you wish!

 

All the best,
Zoe
The Love Lounge Team

 

Related Questions

Disability and Male Masturbation Toys

Contact Us

Everyone who writes into our Love Lounge receives an email with a private answer to their question. We then anonymise the Q&A and share them here on our website to help others who may be struggling with the same concern.  Get in touch if you’d like some advice.

Keep up to date with all our Love Lounge articles by following us on Instagram @UndressingDisability or on twitter @ETUKUndressing.

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A person stood with the palm of their hand facing outward, covering their face. With a purple background

Neurodiversity and Abuse

By Sex & disability, Undressing Disability

There are many forms of physical, emotional and sexual abuse and it can be really hard to spot when this is creating a problem in your relationship. 

While anyone can be a victim of abuse, research shows that those who are neurodiverse may have a heightened risk of violence, bullying or controlling behaviour. ADHD, Autism, Dyspraxia, Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Dysgraphia, and Tourette’s syndrome are all examples of neurodiversity. It is believed that 15 to 20 percent of people are neurodivergent. 

Studies show that autistic people may be up to three times as likely as their neurotypical counterparts to experience bullying, and physical or sexual abuse. 

As an ADHD adult, I struggle with impulsivity, inattentiveness and hyperactivity among other traits. My relationships can be impacted by these which can make it difficult for me to form healthy connections with others but not impossible. However, one area that I need to be extra aware of is physical or emotional abuse. 

 

Here are three ways in which physical, emotional or sexual abuse within a relationship may be difficult for neurodiverse people to identify

1 – Dopamine seeking

When it comes to ADHD, we have lower levels of dopamine in our brains than neurotypical people. Dopamine is a hormone that controls many areas including memory and pleasure. When I form a new relationship, I crave the mental stimulation that I get from a new person. 

This, in the past, has made it very difficult to walk away from a relationship and risk losing that dopamine supply. It means that my brain can often gloss over the bad stuff to get to the good bits even if there are very few of them. 

Red flags at the start of a relationship can reveal a lot about what is to come. If you are getting serious warnings at the beginning then it can be really dangerous if your brain doesn’t allow you to stop, process or leave. Abusers are often clever and can spot this. They may take your lack of acknowledgement as acceptance and may keep pushing the boundaries on what they can get away with. 

Dopamine seeking can also mean that we do not recognise red flags in sexual situations either. It can be difficult to recognise dangerous situations, stop or ask yourself if you truly consent. We may also say yes in order to for fear of losing the person we get this stimulation from.

 

2 – Gaslighting

Gaslighting is when a person tries to get you to question their reality, memory or perceptions. It may be difficult for neurodivergent people to recognise when someone might be trying to change details, memories or events to control them. 

The reason for this may be that neurodivergent people can struggle with low self-esteem and be extra vulnerable as a result. We can often hear negative messages about ourselves while growing up which can have a last effect on our confidence levels as an adult. 

The immediate start of gaslighting in a relationship may feel more like hyper-acceptance from a partner which can become control over time. I struggle with my memory as a result of my ADHD, thanks to the lower dopamine levels, so it’s easy for me to forget details. Partners could easily use this to change small details without my noticing. The memory issues are mostly harmless, although annoying when I lose my keys, but they can be dangerous if a person is repeatedly changing the narrative in their favour. 

As a neurodivergent person, I tend to overshare which can also provide a lot of information for people about me. While most partners take this as a way to get to know me, albeit, in a short space of time, some may store the information for use at another time. This is where the devil can use the details you have told them, and then forgotten you’ve told them, to make gaslighting seem even more real.

 

3 – intense connections

Abusers can be incredibly manipulative and able to exploit a vulnerability. One of the ways this can manifest is through love bombing. 

Love bombing can be excessive attention, admiration, and affection from someone often at the start of a relationship. If we, as neurodivergent people, have lower self-esteem and confidence, this can masquerade as acceptance.

It can be difficult to leave if you believe that this is the only person who accepts you or is affectionate towards you. Often abusers can separate a person from friends or family through gaslighting or other methods so you may feel the connection more intensely because they are the only person you feel understands. 

As an ADHD person, I struggle to form boundaries with people where I can recognise where I need to safeguard myself. I have very intense friendships and relationships as a result. The intensity of the connection, lack of boundaries, pleasure and reward-seeking mean it is very difficult to walk away.

When it comes to sexual abuse, we can often mistake intensity for acceptance. Neurodivergent people can be too trusting and struggle to read a situation or social cues. This can place us in difficult situations or around dangerous people with no idea how to get out. To be accepted, we may find ourselves saying yes to things we don’t understand or want to take part in.

 

How to get help

Research 

Record

Communicate

 

Research:

It can be very helpful to know how your traits, like the ones above, can make it difficult for you to spot the signs of abuse. This means doing a bit of research around neurodiversity or even what to look for when it comes to emotional or physical abuse. 

 

Record:

No matter how difficult it might be, recording your experiences can be a big help. Make a note of something that doesn’t sound right to you and add to the list if you need to. If you can see a pattern start to emerge then you can address it. Writing everything down can help things to seem clearer, less overwhelming and help you to feel in control.

Also, if the situation needs to escalate, it can be very helpful to have a clear timeline or a list of things in case you forget.

 

Communicate:

Open up to someone you trust who is not connected to that person. This could be a friend or it could be a someone at an organisation who has training in this area. 

 

You are not alone and here are some organisations that may be able to help:

National Male Survivor Helpline and Online Support Service.
A dedicated service for anyone who identifies as male affected by sexual violence, and those who support them. You can contact them via Phone: 0808 800 5005 or Email: support@safeline.org.uk


Refuge.
For women who have experienced domestic violence. Refuge operate a freephone, 24-hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline. To use this service please call: 0808 2000 247


The Survivors Trust.
This is a free helpline open 7 days a week for people over the age of 16 who have experienced sexual violence or support someone who has. To contact them call: 0808 801 0818 


Rape Crisis.
Anyone over the age of 16 who has experienced sexual violence can contact rape crisis for advice and support by calling 0808 802 9999 or going online via https://rapecrisis.org.uk/get-help/ 

Neuroqueer and wanting to get pregnant

By The Love Lounge

The Question

Hello

I have been looking at your website as I knew about your work on sex and disability from one of your trainers. I am seeking to signpost a young autistic woman with moderate learning difficulties who wishes to become pregnant via donor and raise a child. She also would like support regarding her sexuality; her GP has not been supportive, and I wondered if you knew of any services which would help?

She has a very supportive mother who would help her to access support.

Many thanks

Liza

 

Our Answer

I have liaised with one of our team who also identifies as Neuroqueer and they were not surprised that the GP was not more supportive. GPs can be really shocking when it comes to information for ADHD people, and they have had a lot of bad experiences with some.

So, I have also researched some support groups which I hope will be useful for the young woman you’re helping. Unfortunately, neither of us were able to find a specific group regarding the issue of seeking a sperm donor whilst being autistic herself.  All I can suggest would be to approach a donor organisation and see if they have any tips/experience they can share.

Below are a few groups where she, or her Mum, can seek support from its staff or members who may be able to share experiences of being autistic and raising a child.

 

Support Services

This is the UK’s leading Neurodiversity charity. I’m sure they will have a wealth of knowledge and may be able to signpost you to more relevant groups on this topic.

https://www.adhdfoundation.org.uk/about-us/

 

Closer to her home I have found this therapy centre

https://theowltherapycentre.co.uk/therapists/county/12/discipline/13/autism-support-therapists-in-east-sussex

 

A.S.P.E.C.S UK Autism LGBTQ+ Community. This support group may be valuable in the area of seeking help from anyone with personal experience of donor pregnancies.  They are based up north but are looking to provide community meetings online around the country. Perhaps a call to them could be fruitful?!

https://www.facebook.com/groups/53253797142/?fref=ts

 

They offer peer support for people who identify as neurodiverse and queer.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/NQsupportnetwork

 

And finally, I found a support group in Brighton. The Ledward Centre opened in May 2022 to serve and support the Brighton LGBTQ+ community. They have started a new series of monthly meetups organised by a team of regular volunteers, who have lived experience of various conditions under the neurodivergent umbrella.

https://www.facebook.com/theledwardcentre/

Message ellis.thistle@ledcen.org.uk with any questions

 

I really hope some of these services can help this young woman; talking to peers who may share their own experiences can be invaluable and often better than mainstream support services (as she has found out!). Someone in these groups might be able to signpost her to more specific services regarding the pregnancy and donor element.

 

Good luck and let us know if you find a great group we should know about!

Zoe (and Caroline)

 

Contact Us

Everyone who writes into our Love Lounge receives an email with a private answer to their question. We then anonymise the Q&A and share them here on our website to help others who may be struggling with the same concern.  Get in touch if you’d like some advice.

Keep up to date with all our Love Lounge articles by following us on Instagram @UndressingDisability or on twitter @ETUKUndressing.

#UndressingDisability

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A photograph of someone dropping massage oils on their hands

Our favourite massage oils

By Sex & disability, Undressing Disability

When it comes to sex, there are plenty of different lubes, toys and accessories on the market. However, nothing beats a good old-fashioned massage after a long day to get you in the mood. Even if it doesn’t end in sex, it’s a great way to connect with your partner while you unwind. It might even help to alleviate some aches and pains too.

Adding a massage oil to the mix can be a great way to take your back rubs to the next level. Although, it’s worth noting that a lot of oils are not made to be used in the place of lubricant and are not the same thing. Similarly, a lot of products may not be condom or toy compatible so always be extra careful.

It’s hard to know where to start as there are so many options out there from CBD to scented to self-heating oils. Fear not, we’ve done the hard work for you so you can sit back and prepare to relax

 

Here are our four favourite oils:

Grassroots Super Charge Massage Oil

Image of a white matte bottle of Grassroots massage oil

The first thing you notice about the Grassroots massage oil is that it smells incredible. This is down to a combination of essential oils which include neroli, sweet almond oil and frankincense. The different essential oils are great for helping you to relax and unwind especially linalool which is a terpene commonly found in lavender.

It’s also worth noting that the oil contains a whopping 1000mg of CBD. CBD is a cannabinoid which is thought to help with relaxation and also with muscle pain. But it won’t make you high as it is not psychoactive so it’s safe to use. This makes it a great choice for anyone who is looking for something that could help with muscle pain. CBD may also help with sexual arousal too as well as aiding sleep.

The pump is super easy to use as well so there are no awkward caps or screw tops to fiddle with. A little goes a long way with this one so you need very little top-up meaning it lasts for ages. One of the best parts of this oil is that the body feels incredibly hydrated after it sinks into the skin.

 

Great for: Value for money due to size and CBD amount

Avoid if: You struggle with strong scents or nut allergies due to almond oil

Price: £39.99

Website: https://grassrootsskin.com/product/super-charge-massage-oil-massage-oil-for-the-body-decolletage-neck-and-face/

Rating: 5/5

 

Templespa Drift Away Massage Oil

Image of a green bottle of Templespa massage oil bottle

Sometimes we all need to feel a bit fancy, this is where Drift Away comes in. It’s a luxurious oil which feels soft on the skin yet helps fingers to glide. The oil contains patchouli, lavender, geranium, frankincense, chamomile, myrrh, dill seed and orange, suspended in a lush base of sesame, jojoba and avocado oils, plus vitamin E.

The addition of patchouli may help to soothe skin conditions such as dermatitis, acne, or dry, cracked skin. Chamomile and geranium oils are thought to help with this. In massage oil, frankincense essential oils are often added to help soothe pain while helping inflammation.

Drift Away is not just a massage oil as it can also be used as a bath oil too so whatever way you prefer to use it – prepare to relax. A little goes a long way with this oil so you don’t need much to make a difference. The scent isn’t overpowering but it does linger on the skin which isn’t a bad thing as it’s quite a relaxing smell.

The bottle can feel a little heavy as its glass which means, if it falls, you will know about it. However, it’s a great shout for anyone who might be concerned about the amount of plastic. It’s also a screw top in comparison to a pump bottle so it might be trickier to navigate.

 

Great for: A good night in

Avoid if: You struggle with strong scents or nut allergies due to almond oil

Price: £26.00

Website: https://www.templespa.com/drift-away-bath-and-massage-oil

Rating: 4/5

 

Smilemakers Massage Oil: Wild Erotic Kneads

Image of a range of Smilemaker massage oils

If heavier glass bottles are a bit tricker or like us, you worry about potentially dropping them then we have an alternative! The Smilemakers natural massage oils are not just a light, easy-to-open product but also a lighter, easy-to-use oil too. It spreads easily across the body without feeling sticky or tacky.

There are two in the collection for consideration called wild and slow. The two products may look similar but are very different in that slow is a lighter, floral scent whereas wild is a deeper, woodier and warming scent.

In trying both, slow was a clear favourite as it contained ylang-ylang, jojoba and sweet almond essential oils. The lighter scent isn’t over-powering and helps to release stress from the body. If you prefer something a bit spicer then wild might be a better choice in that it combines black pepper, rosemary and lavender for a dark, woodier scent. We did find that the scent did fade a bit after a while but nothing a quick top-up couldn’t fix. A little goes a long way with this reasonably priced vegan product.

Also, the packaging deserves a shout-out as it’s well designed to open easily, leak less and be lighter to lift. We also didn’t have to spend ages worrying about dropping it once our hands were a bit slippery!

 

Great for: Light and natural product

Avoid if: You struggle with strong scents or nut allergies due to almond oil

Price: £24.95 each

Website: https://smilemakerscollection.com/shop/wellness/wild-massage-oil/

Rating: 3.5/5

 

Absolute Aromas

Image of the bottle and packaging of the Absolute Aromas oil

There is no essential oil product that you could want that Absolute Aromas doesn’t sell. However, it’s their range of massage oils that deserves attention as there is an entire range where you can find the oil that suits your needs the best. Not only that, but you can also purchase different size bottles which are perfect if you fear being stuck with a big bottle if you don’t like the scent.

The Refresh massage oil is a good place to start and it’s another duo product as it doubles up as a bath oil too. Three drops should do the trick and it’s great for creating a relaxing evening. The uplifting scent has sweet orange, eucalyptus and spearmint in it along with lots of other essential oils which gave it a more natural smell that appear to last the longest out of any that we tried.

The formulas are super hydrating on the skin when used as either a massage or bath oil so it’s great for helping with dry skin conditions. We found it soothing on irritated eczema which may be down to the addition of vitamin E.

It is also worth keeping an eye on their mobility massage oil which contains ingredients such as evening primrose oil and black spruce to help soothe tired joints or muscles.

 

Great for: Essential oils and long-lasting scent

Avoid if: You struggle with strong scents

Price: £9.50 +

Website: https://www.absolute-aromas.com/product-category/premade-massage-oils/

Rating: 4.5/5

 

Sex after a traumatic brain injury

By The Love Lounge

The Question

Hi,

I’m trying to find an organisation to help my son Darren who is sexually frustrated. He had a motorcycle accident in 1998, he had a TBI with frontal lobe damage. He has a bad limp and slurred speech. Due to the TBI, what he says can be inappropriate and often hard to understand which makes making friends difficult.

He is now 41 and spends most of his time since his accident in 1998 in hospitals or rehabs. Since 2016 he has been back in his own home with live-in PA’s but stays with us frequently too. We are his main carers and manage everything he needs although we are training the current PA to take more responsibility.

He is intelligent and humorous but has a short attention span and is impatient. Darren is registered on TLC, but they are a long way away and we are still nervous about using sex workers in case he decides all females are available for sex; I’m sure he won’t but it’s a concern for us.

Can you help us? I would love to meet someone like you face to face to discuss options and give me confidence in my decisions.

Mike

 

Our Answer

Hi Mike,

Your son’s position actually sounds very similar to mine – age, living with carers etc. so I come to this with some understanding of the scenario.

Did he openly said that he is sexually frustrated to you, or do you sense that from behaviour? It sounds like you’re really open with him and forward thinking – especially as you’ve taken the time to contact us.

On our love lounge site, we have a few answered questions that are relevant which you could also read for ideas. Here are a couple of links:

Love Lounge Top Tips: Becoming A More Confident Dater

Disability and Male Masturbation Toys

Online Dating:

Your son could try online dating. This can be a tiresome headache but can be fun too! He may enjoy the interactions and build up confidence. He can be open about the fact he sometimes says inappropriate things and the reason why – and the person can decide whether they’re up for that or not! He may find someone who enjoys it.  If speech is difficult but texting isn’t, he could build a rapport with someone via text and then they’re more likely to be patient with his speech when they do have a conversation.

The downside of online dating is rejection, or time wasting and things never heading anywhere. This is a risk everyone takes though.

 

Get a hobby:

Does your son belong to any clubs of interest? Maybe attending something like this, someone may be attracted to his personality and get to see the whole of him rather than judging a dodgy comment here or there.  He’ll then also be meeting people that enjoy the same interest as him.

 

Masturbation:

If he’s sexually frustrated and needs a quick release, I’m wondering if he gets the time, space and privacy to masturbate? I know this is a bit cringeworthy talking about, but perhaps his live-in carers need to be aware he may need to feel he can do this. Often this side of people gets forgotten about when they’re a ‘client’. Or, let’s say, people choose not to think about it.  Can he access porn by himself on his phone etc?

I don’t know his dexterity levels, and whether this prevents him masturbating, but we will soon be releasing our own range of accessible sex toys in the new year. Keep an eye out for them – we will be talking about it lots on our social media and The Undressing Disability section of our website. But the link above gives some options too.

It’s essential he has a carer that he feels completely open with, and they will support him in any decision he makes. Perhaps this could be part of your interview/induction process; have a chat with them about how they feel. It really is their legal obligation to support him with his sexual needs**, regardless of their own cultural, religious, personal values. Naturally some people will be put off, but this is such an important aspect of life that often gets overlooked for disabled people.

**There is a legal aspect with regard to carers and sourcing sex workers etc. Read the legal bit here

 

Sex Workers:

Another option could be a sex worker, but this wouldn’t be the right choice for everyone. Some people advertise specifically that they work with disabled people, and this would be better in the sense of their experience and kindness.  An organisation that we often recommend is The TLC Trust and you’ve said that Darren is already registered on there. It would enable the sexual release but not the relationship aspect he is seeking.

It really is up to your son and whether he just wants some intimate time with another person, a proper relationship, or a quick release…! But if you can discuss options with him and you’re happy to support him that will go a long way to him having his needs met.

 

Chat with us – Love Lounge Surgeries:

Regarding your son’s capacity, this sounds more complex so I agree that chatting to someone would be beneficial for you. In the new year we are starting to host Love Lounge Surgeries where you can chat with two members of our team virtually, for an hour. We can all brainstorm ideas then. It’s a completely free service by the way!

Keep an eye out on our website and book in a slot with us.

Hopefully this has given you a few ideas.

Zoe

 

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Everyone who writes into our Love Lounge receives an email with a private answer to their question. We then anonymise the Q&A and share them here on our website to help others who may be struggling with the same concern.  Get in touch if you’d like some advice.

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What is Body Neutrality?

By Sex & disability, Undressing Disability

When it comes to loving our bodies, there are plenty of us who would describe our relationship status as ‘it’s complicated’. It’s not always the easiest to feel positive about ourselves or to recognise when we need to take care of ourselves.

It can be really disheartening when you are having a bad day which can make you feel negative about yourself. While the body positivity movement may have started with the best of intentions, it can be an extra pressure to always feel body confident. This might be even more difficult on days when you may be experiencing pain or discomfort.

There has been a shift to a more neutral form of acceptance – body neutrality. It helps to remove the pressure of constant acceptance which can feel unrealistic. Allowing us to accept ourselves the way we are. It can be a healthier approach as it encourages a more natural acceptance and, respect for what our bodies like more rest or giving in to that extra treat.

 

What does Body Neutrality mean to me?

Emily Rose Yates, Head of Accessibility, and Inclusive Design, Mima and Ade Adepitan, explains what body neutrality means to her and says that self-care can look different for each of us.

“It’s accepting that your body is a vessel, ultimately getting you from A to B. It helps you to complete your daily activities, but the vessel needs to be respected, cared for, and looked after. It doesn’t have to make you feel a certain way,” Emily said. “You don’t have to love yourself and the way you look, move or how your body works but you don’t have to feel negative or disgusted about it. You need to appreciate that it is there and part of your identity.”

Importance of practicing self-care

While body neutrality acceptance may sound easy, the practice can be a different story. It is essentially practicing good self-care where you listen to what your body needs. Accepting it by resting, taking time out or even staying home. Instead of going out to an event or meeting friends when you are

“It can be different for people depending on interests, abilities and backgrounds. For me, the difficult thing has been the need for rest and to understand that it can be productive – and that I don’t have to feel guilty about it,” Emily explained.

“It’s been a really important point of not feeling one way or another about my body but respecting its needs which is a huge part of self-care. Another element for me is having a creative outlet and learning when I need to do something other than sitting in front of my laptop.”

 

Fear of missing out – or FOMO – can make practicing self-care extra difficult. A glance at our phones when we are resting can remind us of all the fun we could be having. Friends, families, and carers can play a part in how we care for ourselves.

“As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned that plans with people can change and that they can be flexible. You are not letting someone down or being awful by cancelling. Setting those boundaries, expectations and, acceptance with yourself but also having people around you who understand that” Emily said. “So that you are not having to constantly make up excuses because people understand the situation.”

 

Pushing ourselves to overwork, overproduce or be sociable when we don’t feel like it can have a negative effect on our physical health in the long term as it can lead to burnout. It can affect anxiety, exhaustion, and depression too. As can feeling a constant pressure to accept the way we look or fit a particular aesthetic.

“If we worry too much about the way our bodies look aesthetically and how that makes us feel then that can make us feel a certain way emotionally. On a minor scale, it can lead to unhappiness and wasted time when looking in a mirror,” Emily said. “On a major scale, it can lead to damage to the body, the mind and all these different things. The body is there to enable you to fulfil your potential as a person.”

Inclusion of disabled people in any movements

As with any movement, inclusivity is vital. However, concerns are still raised around inclusiveness of the body-positive movements. Especially when it comes to disabled bodies. Emily highlighted that there needs to be more visibility for all bodies including disabled people. “Disabled bodies need to be shown more, no matter what movement you are talking about. Representation of Deaf or disabled people, in general, is better than when I was growing up.”

“It’s’ definitely getting a lot better, but I think there is a long way to go.”

a young male carer with his disabled client smiling on a bridge pointing to the distance

Dear PA’s

By Sex & disability, Undressing Disability

Dear PA’s,

Firstly, thank you. Thank you for choosing to do this job, allowing us to live our lives as independently as possible. Without you we may need to stay living with our parents as our carers or have to reside in a social care setting. All of which might hinder our personal development and freedom of choices.

I know how hard it can be looking after someone 24/7 for weeks at a time. It’s mentally, physically and emotionally taxing. You’re always thinking of someone else and following their lead in the choices of how the day will be structured.

Different disabilities present different challenges. Living with someone with dementia will be draining in a completely different way to living with a 20+ something with a physical disability but full cognition.

However, something has really troubled me. I have noticed it many times over the years but this summer, going to many events, it made me sad and angry. It’s the observation that disabled people with a PA can be very lonely and isolated DESPITE having someone at their side all the time.

For example, I was at a Fatboy Slim concert on Brighton beach this summer. The atmosphere was electric. It was almost like a spiritual experience of everyone being on the same page, enjoying the moment and being lost in the music. Apart from one PA looking after someone next to me on the accessible platform. She spent the whole concert looking at her phone, sat or stood next to her client. I assume he had some kind of brain injury; he could stand a little bit but was very shaky and non-verbal. He was taking photos of the spectacle, yet every photo was coming out blurred due to his shakes. Why didn’t his PA suggest taking one for him? Even better include him in it, to make a crisp, focused memory for him?

Maybe because she wasn’t noticing as she was on her phone. Maybe because it wasn’t important to her. Maybe because she just saw her role as being there if he needed a drink or a loo visit. Not thinking about what this concert meant to him. Or how he may want to share photos of where he’s been.

Another wheelchair user came up between me and this guy. She put her arms round him and shared her euphoria with him, dancing, and grinning. She did the same with me and it was really bonding. I will never forget the smile on his face and the way you could tell he was set alight by this engagement. He was SHARING the experience with someone.

This is what is so important. Engage with your client. Even if it’s something you’re not particularly interested in. Try and show interest, ask questions, dance with them, comment on the surroundings. We need to feel like we are sharing our experiences with someone, like you would a friend. It is not enough to just ‘be there’ for us, disengaged. It can feel so isolated and lonely. It can also affect self-esteem with the reinforcement of their social status as a ‘disabled person’ out with their ‘carer’. Human’s connecting, be it with a meeting of eyes, a touch on the shoulder, a smile, a joke about the surroundings, is vitally important for our soul.

Let’s take someone who is paid to analyse spreadsheets; now, they probably wouldn’t say it’s their favourite thing in life, but they must give their attention to it to get paid and keep their job. Care is more relaxed in the sense you can look at your phone and be in your room or take calls from friends and family all day but please don’t let that lead you down the path of thinking you don’t have to give your best to your client SOCIALLY and EMOTIONALLY. You may find you get even more reward out of your job.

I have so much experience of this myself, where a carer is with me but not mentally. They are on their phones, and just pushing my chair round a shop. I speak, don’t get a response or one that is vague, proving they are not listening to me. It’s soul destroying. I’ve had 16 years’ experience of this. A client may then behave badly to get attention or withdraw completely; what’s the point of talking if someone’s not willing to hear me and care about what I’m saying. Being truly understood and having your social needs met is a huge aspect of care. And for some people, you are the only relationship they have in their life.

 

Yes, you really are that important. Keep being the best you can be. And thank you again for choosing this job.

Our top five favourite lubricants

By Sex & disability, Undressing Disability

There are a lot of reasons why people might need a little helpful lube from time to time. This can include medical conditions, dehydration, stress, or different forms of birth control. If you are a person who menstruates then at different times in your cycle, or even menopause can make a difference. Lube can help to reduce friction, prevent injury, and make sex less painful.

When it comes to buying lubricants, there really is something out there for everyone. However, it can be really overwhelming to know which one will work for you. There can also be a bit of a stigma around lubricants but there is no reason to feel embarrassed if you need one.

Lubricants don’t need to be expensive either as there are plenty on the market that are reasonably priced. When shopping for a new lube or your first one, you do have to consider safety. Oil-based products can cause issues with different materials including latex or silicone, not all products are toy or condom safe. If you are using sex toys or condoms, then you will need a water-based product instead so it’s worth double-checking before you purchase. Ingredients or formulas may change over time too.

 

Here are our five favourites:

Naked Grapefruit. Just Lube

Just lube literally is exactly that. It’s a simple take on lubricant without the complex ingredients or fussy packaging. As a result, it’s an easy-to-use, straightforward product at a great price.

Bottle of Naked Grapefruit Just Lube placed in front of a blue background

The small bottle is perfect for popping in a pocket or into a hand luggage bag ready for a flight. The pump design means it’s easy to top up when you need it to. While a little went a long way with this product, we did need a top-up from time to time with this.

The lack of scent was another bonus with this product as this can be really challenging for those with sensory issues. It may irritate sensitive skin or those with allergies too. Thanks to the colourful packaging and easy-to-read information – it makes a great first lube purchase.

The product is also glycerin-free which is useful for anyone struggling with yeast infections. Glycerin can be added to lubricants because it helps them to stay wet, but it helps yeast to grow in the body.

Just lube is water-based and is, therefore, condom and toy safe.

4/5

£9.99 https://nakedgrapefruit.com/product/just-lube/

 

Smilemakers Generous Gel

The texture of this generous gel makes it immediately different from the usual lubricants in that it feels thicker and less watery. Despite the thickness of the lubricant, it doesn’t interfere with any of the sensations during sex and it didn’t feel unnatural when applied to the skin.

In fact, the thicker consistency meant it was less messy than some of the other lubricants. This is great news when combining it with sex toys. We also found that it needed less topping up in comparison to the others. There was no artificial smell to the lube either which can be great for anyone who struggles with strong perfumed scents. The bottle was also very easy to navigate with a clear pump design and minimal packaging.

It is also made with only five ingredients including dipotassium glycyrrhizate. This natural ingredient comes from the liquorice root and may help to reduce inflammation. It may help with skin conditions or irritation that may occur during sex.

The PH-balanced and water-based formula is safe to use with sex toys or condoms.

5/5

£12.95 / https://www.boots.com/smile-makers-generous-gel-10271782

 

The Natural Love Company Simply Lube

This lubricant is a great option for anyone looking for a natural, cruelty-free, vegan alternative that contains no nasty additives or chemicals.

The product felt natural on the skin without being too sticky. The pump bottle is easy to use, and the lube doesn’t have a strong overpowering scent. We did find that it needed the occasional top up but that’s common with most water-based lubricants. It also contains aloe vera which can be soothing and calming on irritated skin.

It’s worth mentioning the eco-friendly bottle design, which is made from compostable, wheat-based plastic. The ingredients are also 99.2% natural including Forsythia Herb Extract and purified water. If you fancy a bit of a change or if aloe vera isn’t your thing, then the company also offer another version which has wild strawberry extract. Both lubricants are condom and toy-safe.

The natural love company simply lube, decoratively placed next to strands of wheat and a shell on a pink piece of fabric

Overall, this is a well-thought-through product which could be a great addition to the bedside cabinet. It’s also, thanks to the lack of chemicals, a good choice for anyone with allergies or sensitive skin.

4/ 5

£14.95 https://www.thenaturallovecompany.com/shop/eco-friendly-sex-toys/sex-accessories/natural-lube-and-organic-lube/simply-lube-natural-aloe-vera/

 

Sh!

Pure Lube is a bit of a bestseller thanks to how long it lasts on the skin without needing a top-up.

Despite it being water-based, it isn’t overly watery but has a silky feeling without any overpowering scent.

It was also one of the best value for money since the bottle is huge at 250ml for just £12. A little goes a long way with this product so it is designed to last.

The vegan lube is great for combining with sex toys as it doesn’t need to be touched up. It was great to note that Sh! also does a range of thicknesses including Pure Plus which may struggle with dryness or anyone who might be using dilators for vaginismus.

The lube is water-based which means it’s condom and toy safe. We found it easy to wash off the skin afterwards which is a plus. The pump bottle means it can be used with one hand which is great considering the other might already be in use.

3/5

£12 https://www.sh-womenstore.com/lush-pure-lube-250ml.html

 

Hoo Raa Wake the Neighbours

CBD lube is fast becoming a popular addition to the market, and it can be difficult to know where to start if you fancy trying it out.

Hoo Raa is a great first try product as the bright packaging is colourful, playful and not ‘overly-hempy’ or scary. At £30 for 120ml, it’s not the most expensive CBD lubricant out there. It contains 240mg of CBD isolate.

CBD, a cannabinoid, which comes from the cannabis plant is not going to get you high, but it may help you to relax. It may also be a great choice for anyone struggling with sensitivity as CBD is thought to increase blood flow to the area. It has also been associated with reducing painful irritation.

We found that the lubricant felt natural on the skin but a little goes a long way, so we didn’t need a huge amount. It can be a little cloudy in appearance but thankfully it didn’t have the overly hemp-ish smell that some CBD oils can have. While it was hard to know about irritation, we felt a bit more relaxed during use which makes it a potentially great product for anyone with anxiety.

This product is not condom safe however nor is it safe for use with toys.

4/5

£30 https://www.wearehooraa.co.uk/product/wake-the-neighbors-uk/

Silhouette of a woman in curtains

Speech and communication barriers during sex

By The Love Lounge

The Question

Hi Love Lounge,

I have communication difficulties as my speech is very slow and difficult to understand. I have a ‘friend with benefits’, and she has learnt to understand me better over time. However, she says it’s awkward in the bedroom, when we want to try something different or maybe alter technique, as she can’t understand me so it ruins the moment.  She has to ask repeatedly what I said and it slows everything down…and sometimes stops.  I feel frustrated and now feel I don’t want to say what I’m thinking in case it ruins the moment. So sometimes I go without saying what I’d like to happen.

How can we get round this issue?

Adam

 

Our Answer

Hi, Adam mate – my initial response to a message like this would be to say communication is key to a relationship and it will get better over time as you’ll find your special ways of talking. However, as you are enjoying a FWBs situation things are clearly different, so here are a few practical tips…

Could you maybe plan together what you’re going to do first? Yes, spontaneity can be hot but it’s not the only way to have hot sex. I guess the advantage of FWBs is you have a real chance to experiment without feeling too bad if things go pear shaped occasionally. So perhaps try saying before what kind of things you’d like to try. Maybe you will find things you’d never thought you would both enjoy.

You could also try to be expressive non-verbally. I’m not sure how easy you find making gestures but I imagine it wouldn’t be too hard to find ways of saying with body language ‘Bend’, ‘Harder’, ‘Faster’ etc. It could also be hot for you to have your own personal sexy little code. Most couples when they get into it mainly just communicate through noises, grunts and exaggerated facial expressions. I’m guessing you could do this too.

Also as someone with a speech impairment too I can confirm all my friends have said I become a lot easier to understand over time. So if this person is indeed a friend you could just get used to hanging out more or being in groups when you’re together. I can understand how things get heated in the bedroom, therefore miscommunications seem more frustrating. But if you spend more time talking to each other when you are just hanging out it may be easier for her to tune into you.

And as a general point, please never think this is your problem, because it definitely isn’t. Your speech difficulties are part of you and if she’s chosen to have sex with you that is the whole you – including your speech too. Once you start feeling bad or frustrated at yourself things are just going to get worse. Ultimately it is her that needs to learn how to understand you.

I hope this helps you on your merry way.
Ted

Contact Us

Everyone who writes into our Love Lounge receives an email with a private answer to their question. We then anonymise the Q&A and share them here on our website to help others who may be struggling with the same concern.  Get in touch if you’d like some advice.

Keep up to date with all our Love Lounge articles by following us on Instagram @UndressingDisability or on twitter @ETUKUndressing.

#UndressingDisability

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