Sexuality resources for people with disabilities?

A reader asked:

Do you have good sex ed resources written for and about people with disabilities? Bonus if there’s resources for nonverbal people or “low functioning” autistic people (scare quotes intentional, of course). (Also, it’s okay if you can’t fulfill this request entirely. I’m just frustrated that I don’t know where to begin.)

realsocialskills said:

I know a few possibly-useful resources:

The Autistic Self Advocacy Network and Autism NOW published a handbook on relationships and sexuality, written by a variety of autistic authors.

I’ve heard good things about The Ultimate Guide to Sex and Disability: For All of Us Who Live with Disabilities, Chronic Pain, and Illness. (I don’t know whether that book addresses cognitive disability or not; I think it is likely relevant regardless.)

Temple University has a project aimed at providing adult vocabulary for adult AAC users. That project has a relationships and sexuality section, with a list of words that need to be added to AAC devices.

Mayer Johnson (a company that makes a lot of communication symbols) has a symbol set called “Communicating About Sexuality”. I do not know if it’s any good, and I kind of suspect that it might not be, because they describe it as being primarily oriented towards preventing sexual abuse.

This page also has a few symbols relevant to sexuality, but apparently primarily in the context of enabling people to report abuse. Here’s another one with a similar agenda. (Hat tip: PrAACtial AAC.)

I know that Dave Hingsburger does ed classes primarily designed for people with intellectual disabilities, and that he trains people who teach them. I have not seen them directly; I do have reason to believe that they are good. I don’t know how to find out when they are happening.

Open Future Learning has a video module by Dave Hingsburger about sexuality. It’s a resource designed for staff; the website subscription model assumes that an organization is buying a subscription. If you contact them directly, it is also possible to buy an individual subscription.

Diverse City Press publishes expensive DVDs about masturbation, abuse prevention, boundaries, self-esteem, and power. I have not seen them (because I can’t afford to buy them yet), but I’ve heard good things about them from people whose judgement I trust. They also have a couple of good books about abuse prevention that touch on sex ed a little bit (they say, among other things, that it’s abusive to deny people access to knowledge about their bodies, and also abusive to try to prevent them from having consensual sexual relationships).

Short version: There aren’t enough good resources on disability and sexuality. Scroll up for some of the ones I know about. Please send a message if you know of something good.

Friends annoy friends

How do you make friends you actually like and who like you back? Most people end up annoying me if I spend too much time around them, and the few who don’t usually end up annoyed at me themselves.
Most friends annoy each other if they spend too much time together. That in itself doesn’t mean that you dislike each other. Sometimes it just means that you’re spending way more time together than is good for the friendship.
The best thing to do might be to take a step back and spend some time figuring out how much time you actually want to spend with that friend, and what kind of things you want to do together – as well as what kind of things you’d rather do separately.
For instance, it might be that you like hanging out with your friend once a week, but that you don’t want to have long conversations with them every day. Or that you like to spend a lot of time with them, but you don’t want them with you when you go to bars. Or that you want to hang out with them, but not some of their other friends who you find tiresome.
Friends need boundaries and adequate time apart in order to have the friendship stay good.
There’s a great piece, Five Geek Social Fallacies, that describes some related dynamics that complicate friendship.

Conventions for going to a funeral at a church or other holy place outside of your faith/atheism

What are the conventions for going to a funeral at a church or other holy place outside of your faith/atheism? Is there a polite way to refuse touch on these situations?
realsocialskills answered:
That depends on the nature of your faith. Different traditions have different attitudes towards going into places of worship associated with other religions. And ultimately, it’s a matter of what your perspective on these things is.
One approach is that going to a funeral doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with religion or your religious beliefs. It can be about supporting people who are going through the awful experience of losing someone they care about. That’s generally understood to be one reason people go to funerals. Going to a funeral is not taken as a sign that you believe in that faith, just that you care about the people.
Most, but not all, religions make it possible to be in the service without actively participating in affirmations of faith. Because most religions accept that people have a legitimate reason to be present other than being part of that faith. For some people, that makes it ok to be at funerals in houses of worship that have very different values than their own – because they aren’t affirming that faith by being there; just supporting people in their grief.
But it’s also ok if your faith or atheism means that you’re unable to be present during the rituals of another faith. For some people, that’s really important. (It’s also important not to be a jerk about it.) If you’re not able to be present at the funeral, there are other ways you can offer support. For instance, calling them a few days later, or coming by, and checking how they’re doing and whether they want to talk. In some ways that can be more helpful than the funeral because sometimes people can be very alone and isolated after the public ritual has ended.
In terms of polite ways to avoid touch, it depends on which religious group you are talking about. Sometimes it is possible and sometimes it is not. When it’s not, it’s ok if that means you need to avoid that kind of service and find out ways to support mourners.
There is a useful book called How to be a perfect stranger that gives a guide to what’s likely to happen and be expected at various places of worship. That might be helpful in navigating these things.

Using books for actors to learn nonverbal communication?

There are many books written for actors that talk about how to convey emotion through tone, facial expressions, and body language. Although they tend to be over-exaggerated, I’ve found them to be helpful because they point out common social cues that non-neurotypical people don’t always learn otherwise. Some books even mention how social cues vary between cultures.
I’ve heard those can be useful. Do you know any specific books that are good?
A comment from Mel Baggs:
I’m generally really uncomfortable with acting-based “social skills” because a lot of what people are looking at is stage conventions, not natural emotions. Then to some people stage conventions start to look more realistic than real emotions. I hate it. (Especially since I often get the short end of the stick in such situations. I’m 100% real, but I’m rarely a stage convention. And I’ve been penalized for that.)
That makes a lot of sense.

I’m not really familiar with acting at all. It seems plausible to me that some people could learn some things from it, but I could see how it could be really dangerous to put too much trust in it.