The Sexuality of Adults with Intellectual Disability in Poland

Kijak R.  Department of Special Pedagogy, Pedagogical Faculty, Pedagogical University in Cracow, Ingrarden Street 4, 30-060 Cracow, Poland.  Sex Disabil. 2013 Jun;31(2):109-123.

Sexuality is one of the most important aspects of human life that relates to sex, one’s identification, sexual role, sexual preferences, eroticism, pleasure and intimacy. It fulfils such functions as procreative, hedonistic and relationship-building as well as constitutes an integral part of human’s personality. The sexuality of people with intellectual disability is a special case – both from medical, pedagogical, psychological and ethical point of view. Little available research shows that it may become a significant factor that modifies their psychological and sexual functioning. The basic poll involved altogether 133 people with mild intellectual disability. The work was carried out in 11 schools and special institutions of three provinces in Poland: kujawsko – pomorskie, wielkopolskie and dolnośląskie (provinces of Kujavy and Pomerania, Great Poland and Lower Silesia) The respondents qualified to take part in the poll constituted a very uniform group – homogenous as regards their age of 18-25 as well as IQ level that was average for the people with higher degree of intellectual disability (HDID). Their age was of importance as in that life period one can observe the formation of first partner relationships with the clear aim of establishing a family. It is accompanied by a quick development of sexual desire and taking up various forms of sexual activity. People with intellectual disability don’t form a homogenous group as regards their psychological and sexual development. In this group, one can observe both different forms of clinical mental handicap which definitely affects the whole process of sexual development. The sexual development is delayed by an average period of 3 years. The people with intellectual disability take up mostly autoerotic behaviour whereas partner relationships wthin that group are more seldom. The phenomenon of sexuality of people with higher degree of intellectual disability is an issue that needs further constant analysis. The research has also made it possible to detect what kind of sexual behaviour people with intellectual disability undertake and the value of sexuality for such people. The article deals also with some important dilemmas connected with sexual education and what factors trigger off incorrect sexual reaction including their lack in the above mentioned group.