Confronting the Challenges Facing Individuals with Developmental Disabilities Who Want Healthy Intimate Relationships

A recent article in Disability Scoop outlined the challenges confronting many individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities when it comes to finding ways to foster intimate relationships. The article, entitled, “For Many With Disabilities, Freedom to Be Intimate is Rare” was written by Chris Serres and also appeared in the Minneapolis Star Tribune on November 19, 2015.  The article pointed out that for people with disabilities the freedom to be intimate is rare.  The article states that “adults with disabilities complain of having to overcome constant hurdles to engage in romantic activity and sustain loving relationships. The obstacles include arbitrary curfews, lack of transportation and segregated housing that cuts them off from mainstream social life and opportunities to date. Often, the barriers are imposed by group home operators that place safety above intimacy. ”

At Clausen House, efforts are made to acknowledge individual needs and desires, and to support the development of healthy relationships.  In addition to offering lessons and group sessions aimed at promoting healthy interactions, self-advocacy and health and safety, staff is trained to respect individual self-actualization and to avoid the temptation to impose broad rules that are more reflective of a parent-child relationship.  We are proud of the fact that a number of Clausen House clients are engaged in successful long-term loving relationships, and even a few clients are married.

Love and intimacy are a natural, important part of life. At Clausen House, we strive to make sure that our programs do not create barriers for those who wish to pursue such healthy relationships and actually support such achievement.