Health and Sexuality
Some of the most-frustrating situations are often the most difficult-to-communicate topics (internal state, emotions, bodily functions/feelings). Many times the person needs long-term support to learn the vocabulary before being asked to use it in real-life situations.
- Communicating about health is a common challenge for people with complex communication needs.
- Expressing Pain & Describing Symptoms
- Sharing emotions, both positive and negative
Problem Solving: What’s wrong?
How do we resolve a problem without adequate communication? This can be especially difficult when the topic is considered to be private, or ‘off limits’.
A visual/AAC system first needs to contain the vocabulary to allow adults to discuss issues surrounding sexuality and relationships. Caregivers may not feel comfortable hearing this vocabulary used. However, that does not mean that we take words away, or fail to make them available in the first place.
Therapy can target the use of socially expected language to initiate relationships and respond to partners. The ability to say No to unwanted contact is of utmost importance and needs to be modeled.
By modeling the ability to say no, or to communicate about unwanted advances, we may help reduce the risk that individuals with complex communication disorders become victims of sexual assault and abuse.
People with disabilities have the Right to Privacy and the right to determine their own relationships. This includes the right to communicate about intimate subjects, but also the right to express discomfort and say NO.
The use of robust Core and fringe Vocabulary on a communication device can facilitate the Disclosing & Reporting of abuse. The ability to report harassment or abuse can provide people with disabilities access to communication with the justice system.
The following video, shared online by Gail Van Tatenhove, gives an example of how important the ability to report can be.