These topics have been presented for different audiences as listed, but can be easily adapted for different groups. Venues have included the Maryland Occupational Therapy Association conference, Catalyst Con East, medical grand rounds at Medstar Washington Cancer Institute and Medstar National Rehabilitation Hospital, and various support groups.
For healthcare providers
Addressing Sexuality in Occupational Therapy
Sexual activity is classified as an activity of daily living, yet it is typically neglected in OT practice for reasons including lack of time, lack of knowledge, and clinician discomfort. While sexuality includes sexual activity, it also includes identity, orientation, and drive towards intimacy. All aspects of sexuality are relevant to our clientele, whose participation in their sexuality may be limited by their condition in a variety of ways. This presentation seeks to increase participants’ comfort level with including sexuality in their practice.
Sexuality and the Cancer Patient
When cancer is diagnosed, the medical community works hard to save lives, but often neglects talk about quality of life; sex and sexuality may be ignored altogether. There’s a growing body of evidence to show that any kind of cancer can affect a person’s sex life in a variety of ways, both during treatment and long after. This presentation addresses how cancer can affect sexuality directly and indirectly, and discusses ideas that participants can bring to their clients and clients’ partners for maximizing sexual participation after a diagnosis of cancer.
Sexuality after Spinal Cord Injury
Health care professionals who treat people with spinal cord injuries know that sexuality is important, and the literature confirms that sexuality is among the top priorities for people living with spinal cord injuries. The literature also shows that many people finish their initial care without sexuality being adequately addressed, even though we know that better education around sexuality is correlated with better satisfaction later on. This presentation discusses how to initiate discussion about sexuality, ways sexuality is directly and indirectly affected by spinal cord injuries, and how to support people as they learn to adjust to their new normal.
For people living with disabilities
Sexuality and Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries affect every aspect of life, from the daily minutiae to the critical. While the rehabilitation process can help people get back to their lives, questions relating to sexuality can be overlooked. In this discussion, we challenge preconceptions about what sex means, talks about some of the ways sexuality may be affected by spinal cord injury, and discusses strategies and ideas for returning to life as a sexual person.
Sexuality and Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis also affects sexuality and sexual function in ways that can be unpredictable and changing. In this discussion, we bust some myths and learn about “normal” sexual function as well as about effects of MS on sexuality and how to compensate for them. Participation, especially of those with lived experience, is invited.
For other groups
Problem-Solving Sex with Disability
Every person with a disability has a unique set of desires, strengths, and impairments; no single recommendation can help everyone. Instead, each person needs a specific set of strategies that will work for their specific situation. This presentation focuses on ways to problem-solve for successful sexual encounters by identifying relevant factors, then finding ways to feature, fix, or compensate for each factor. Anyone who has a disability, works with people with disabilities, or may sleep with someone with a disability can benefit from this way of thinking.
Playing while Human: Kink and Disability
Disability can make participation in kinky activities more difficult, but need not prevent it altogether; living in aging, injured, or otherwise imperfect bodies also affects how people play. Playing with an all-too-human body requires self-awareness, problem-solving, communication, education, and a willingness to consider different ways of doing things. This presentation talks about specific strategies that can help compensate for common physical issues and tools for problem-solving strategies that can work for individual factors and play styles. Everyone with a disability, everyone who might play with someone with a disability, and everyone whose body has limits can benefit.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate… Effectively
“I’m jealous.” “I’m worried.” “I’m really upset about what happened last night.” Even in the happiest of relationships, difficult conversations are sometimes needed. When relationships get rockier, the first advice we hear is to communicate, communicate, communicate. Actually communicating, however, is hard – especially if we’re hoping for positive results. Let’s talk about how to have the tough conversations, accomplish more than just an airing of grievances, and still like each other the next day.
Topics in development
- Sexuality after Stroke
- Living with Low Desire in a Sex-Positive Community