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Sex & disability

Any advice for my brother?

By Emily Yates, Lifestyle, The Love Lounge One Comment

Hello!

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.

Hi there,

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!

“Three years married and frustrated since my accident…”

By Lifestyle, Mik Scarlet, The Love Lounge No Comments

Hey Mik,
I just discovered your videos on youtube. I’m 29, female, been C5 tetraplegic for five years now since my accident, three years married and getting quite frustrated cause I still haven’t been able to reach orgasm after the accident. I love my husband and he loves me, but sex still leaves me just relaxed at most. We’ve tried different positions, I’ve tried “thinking myself to it”, but it won’t
help. I still have some minor feeling down there, but it’s like having sex while in a rubber suit really, so the sensations are nearly nonexistent.

I’ve almost lost hope, but after seeing your videos I’d really like to ask more about the techniques you use. I refuse to believe that I’ll never be able to come again.
Any ideas, suggestions or videos you could suggest?
Looking forward to your answer,
Freya.

Hi Freya, 
I suppose this is the unspoken part of spinal injury. We see stuff in the media about trying to get us to walk again, and hear stories of people not coping with their new life with SI but that is always put down to some other reason than sex and sexuality. But we know different eh? However much you miss walking, or dancing or kicking a football it’s sex that really cuts to the core. For most people with SI there is some change in function when it comes to sex, whether it’s dealing with pain or loosing sensation or function or both. This is why I have spent so much of my career in the media highlighting the topic, but usually on with a broader “disabled people have sex, get over it” manner. Then when I hit 30 I felt I was finally in a place to “come out” about how my SI impacted on my sexual function and how I had developed methods to cope with this. During my time in the media I had met a few disabled people who my technique had helped and I thought I should tell the world.
Now Freya, you’ve seen the videos I have online, including the one about “thinking yourself to orgasm”. However it doesn’t seem to be working. Can I ask have you and your partner tried it together? Have you tried getting your partner to help you with the first part of the thinking bit, the creating a head orgasm? I know that most of my advice seems to be aimed at people who are not in relationships, but that is because many of the people who ask for help are in that position. If you have a partner I have found the whole thing is easier. Make it a joint game. Another idea is to really let you fantasies run riot. If you have some sensation but it is  “like having sex while in a rubber suit” this is even better. I too experience fluctuating sensation so understand how it feels, but it’s then that the concept of head or tantric sex really helps. So why not chat with your partner and spend a few nights (or full days if you have time and the inclination) experimenting with anything that turns you on? You have to be the centre of it all, and you must guide what happens and how it’s done. Mostly as everything must be to get you there… You’re the important one for the moment.
More than that, don’t panic over this. I know that the awful worry of never getting back that part of your life can actually stop you getting there. It might be that you have lost the old orgasm that you once knew but that is not to say there isn’t a new one, a better one, just waiting to be discovered. I do know that any man deep down loves the idea of being the one who gives the woman he loves back her ability to orgasm, however she gets there, so trust me your husband will be a eager participant in whatever you get up to. But don’t feel less. Less sexy, less sexual, less of a woman. Don’t buy into those non-disabled tropes. We might not work like we used to, but we can work better. Remember that, and see what happens. It might not happen quickly, and it might not be exactly as you expected. But it will.
Lastly I must point out that these “thinking” orgasms aren’t like the old groin led ones. They are weird at first. I also understand they are different for everybody, so if I described mine to you it probably won’t help. Another thing to consider is that while I lost sensation for a while, it slowly came back. 5 years feels like a life time but it isn’t. I’ve had 35 years this April, yet stuff is still returning now. Not that I am giving you a false hope, but in my experience when the doctors say “that’s your lot” about what does and doesn’t work, take it with a pinch of salt. Biology is a weird master, so go with it. I will say that the more I had sex, the more I found my feeling worked. Tough life eh?
So, I hope this helps a bit? Basically try stuff, see what works for you. Who knows it might even be a rubber suit? If it is I know some great designers. One of the leading stars of the rubber world is herself disabled too! But whatever floats your boat, try it. Try it once, twice and keep trying stuff and see what happens. It might not give you back your non-disabled sexuality but I am sure it will give you something new… and better!
 Hope this helps? Maybe drop us a line and I’ll see if I can help more if not.
Good luck and have fun!
Mik
George from the Undatables

Disabled and Dateable

By Disability, Lifestyle, The Love Lounge One Comment

If you were approached in a bar by somebody with a disability how would you feel? If you really think about it can you in all honesty say that you would be 100% comfortable with it; many people admit that they experience a certain level of fear when considering dating a person with a disability, some of this stems from concerns of being more of a carer than a partner whilst others worry about being politically incorrect and offending their potential date. When you examine these worries though, many are often unfounded.

Political Correctness
Being politically correct is something many people feel extremely tense about. These worries are often heightened when talking to a person with a disability. However language evolves all the time and what is deemed to be politically correct today when talking about disability may not be correct in a years’ time. One way to sweep any concerns under the rug is by listening to how the other person talks, and the language that they use when talking about their disability. When I talk to potential dates I’m often not politically correct, nor am I offensive. I use causal jokey language rather than medical jargon.

Will I be a Carer?
This is quite a common concern for people considering dating someone with a disability. However fretting about this and turning the question over in your mind is not going to do much good. The best way to get an answer is to voice your concerns. The chances are it won’t be your dates first time having this conversation, so relax. Everyone’s needs vary; many people value the independence they have or employ someone to care for them if they need extra help. They are looking to date you so try not be too worried.

Relax, breath and get to know the person behind the disability.

Watch the Undatables

“What can I try to do to help my pain in the bedroom and make sure my partner stays happy?”

By Lifestyle, Mik Scarlet, The Love Lounge No Comments
“My chronic pain has never been properly diagnosed and i the last few years I have been unable to work because of it. My partner and I have been together for over ten years and had a really strong intimate relationship… until recently. I’ve been unable to enjoy any touch because of my pain recently and I find it hard to get in positions. My partner is understanding but I don’t want him to get frustrated as we are still young people in our early thirties. What can I try to do to help my pain in the bedroom and make sure my partner stays happy?” – Tina, Milton Keynes
Oh boy Tina, do I know how you feel. I also have had chronic pain for most of my adult life (I wrote about it on the Huffington Post recently) and also know how much it can prevent you from feeling sexy, or allow you to enjoy being touched. I can’t tell you any magic bullet, but I would advise you try Mindfulness. My GP sent me to a therapist who trained me in the Mindfulness technique specifically designed to help with chronic pain and it has changed my life. It gives you the ability to cope much better and puts you in charge of the pain.
Before I found the technique, I used to try to build up to sex slowly and this way I found I could get in the mood far easier. Another method might be role play. If you are really in the mood as you are living out a fantasy, pain is much easier to ignore. You might think that you have to do more to make it work, but I would advised you to ask your partner to take charge more, try stuff out and always keep checking that you are OK. That way as you get more intimate, he’s exploring you while you’re in control and both of you feel conformable. That in itself can be a bit of fantasy eh? Pain is a bugger to live with, but trust me you can find a way through and nothing gets rid of pain like a really nice orgasm. Sure not for long, but if you keep them coming then it’s the best pain medication ever. – Mik

“I’m worried I won’t look as smooth rolling around on the dancefloor!”

By Lifestyle, Mik Scarlet, The Love Lounge No Comments

“I was involved in an accident and after a long road of recovery I am now adjusting to life as a wheelchair user. So far, mostly, so good but I do have some worries about the practicalities of my new piece of kit​!

Before the accident I loved nothing more than hitting bars and meeting new people. I’m worried I won’t look as smooth rolling around on the dancefloor!” – Tim, Crawley

Hi Tim. To be honest I found myself looking far cooler once I started dancing in a wheelchair than I ever did on wheels. I have been known to take over a dance floor with my moves, and once even podium danced as a massive rave. I can see no reason why you couldn’t either. That’s not to say that getting back out once you start using a chairs is a bed of roses.
There are always the annoying issues of access, especially the thorny issue of accessible loos when you have had a few, but once you start hitting the nightlife you will find those local haunts that are OK and this becomes a regular. I found that going to a pub or club a lot gave you a chance to explain to the management how they could improve their access even more too.
If I’m honest, I had similar worries when I started my life on wheels, way back in the 1980s, but I soon found the call of a good time out weighed any fears I had. I also discovered that if you “accidentally” clip the foot of someone you fancy with your front caster you have a perfect in, and the offer of a drink to say sorry is rarely refused. Don’t crush their foot as this will never work, but a gentle nudge never failed me. Get out there and see what happens.

“At 28 I started partially losing my sight last year and have increasingly been losing faith that I will find a boyfriend…”

By Disability, Lifestyle, Mik Scarlet, My story, The Love Lounge No Comments
At 28 I started partially losing my sight last year and have increasingly been losing faith that I will find a boyfriend – it was hard enough before! Would you recommend trying to date other people with impairments such as myself? Will able bodied men see me for me? (Pardon the pun..)
Jasmine
Hmm. I really think that it’s what works for you Jasmine. If you might feel safer and at ease with some who also has a visual impairment that why not try it? But not if you feel that’s all you can get, or you are having to choose that route because you are disabled. No one should make do, especially people as amazing as us! I think that the right person will not only not care that you have a disability, they will see how that has made you the perfect person for them. I found that with my wife, and I feel like that about her. She has a big burn scar all down her right side of her body, and when I met her I knew she was perfect for me as she had it on show. So while she doesn’t call herself disabled, I say she is. We have a shared experience of doctors, and of people being real tossers. Trust me, I was shocked to experience how people react to someone with a visible scar. Shocking. But I digress. I really feel that we, as disabled people, can internalise our fears and allow them to get in the way of us finding love. In a way, disability can act a filter stopping the really awful possible relationships getting in the way of the possible good ones. If some one is put off by a disability then they really aren’t right for us, and so hooray. Make way for those who don’t care.
I know this isn’t really much help, but if I was you I’d just get out there, enjoy life and see what life brings. We spend too much time worrying about relationships and dating and what we should be doing is living life. Along the way it’s much more likely to meet people, and those people tend to be the ones who we want to be with, rather than those we feel we might have to stay with. If they are are visually impaired of not won’t really matter, if they are right… they are right! – Mik
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