“Sexuality means more than intercourse or sex,” says Kelly Clark, an independently licensed clinical social worker and a clinician at Nonotuck Resource Associates. Sexuality is also about intimacy, connection and belonging, she tells attendees of a webinar entitled “Supporting Intimacy and Sexuality.” “It’s about relationships, both friendship and sexual. It’s about how we feel about being the gender we are and our sexual orientation. It’s about sexual expression and behavior. It’s the total of who we are, what we believe, what we feel and how we respond.”
The webinar, which Clark co-presented with Grayson Fleischner — an assistant director of quality enhancement, a human rights coordinator, and a sexuality trainer for Nonotuck Resource Associates — was part of Nonotuck’s annual AFC (Adult Family Care) Summit.
Each year, Nonotuck hosts the AFC Summit to offer AFC provider organizations educational sessions and opportunities to network with other professionals in the field. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, this year’s summit took place virtually, with all five sessions now available on Nonotuck’s website as webinars.
The “Supporting Intimacy and Sexuality” webinar was an interactive training that used real-life scenarios and best practice examples to help better understand and support the people we work with in the field of intimacy and sexuality. Topics covered included: trauma-informed approaches, creating positive messages, human sexual development, sexual expression and gender identity, managing values, and working with families and loved ones.
“Being sexually healthy means feeling good about who they are — whether it’s sexual orientation or gender identity — and that they have relationships that are positive and enriching and not exploitive or abusive, and that people have enough information about sexuality to avoid unplanned pregnancies or sexually transmitted infections,” Fleischner says in the webinar.
Clark says people with disabilities are often perceived as asexual. “They often have to advocate for themselves and tell people that they are sexual and that they have the right to privacy, sexuality education and the right to meet and date people.”
The goal of the workshop, she says, is to help people become more comfortable and confident in addressing sexuality with people with disabilities and supporting self advocates in being sexual self-advocates.
Learn how Nonotuck developed a love-based ideology of care. We started our shared living program as an alternative to group homes for people with disabilities. Instead, Shared Living creates genuine life transformation for people with disabilities, as well as families and communities. The true power of caregiving is found through hospitality, authenticity, and love.