Parental Perceptions of the Sexuality of Adolescents with Intellectual Disabilities

Iris Manor-Binyamini, Michal Schreiber-Divon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The sexuality of people with disabilities is often conceptualized as asexual. Furthermore, public discourse regards people with disabilities as highly prone to sexual abuse. The few studies that contemplate on parents’ of people with intellectual disability (ID) point of view uncover the parents’ perceptions towards their offspring’s sexuality. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to examine the sexuality of adolescents with ID from their parents perceptions. The study was conducted using a phenomenological approach and included 21 in-depth, semi-structured interviews with parents of adolescents with ID. The interviews were analyzed using thematic analysis. Parents’ perceptions of their children’s sexuality and their involvement concerning sexuality reveal dilemmas and tensions that remain unresolved. Although some parents did tend to treat their children’s sexuality as non-normative and as a source of problems and thus ignored, prevented, and limited their children’s sexual expressions, other parents presented different perspectives, acknowledging the sexuality of adolescents with ID and their right to express it. The findings also reveal a new and exciting insight related to the conceptual space of physical contact between parents and children, which moves between physical expressions of love and care and feelings of prohibited sexuality. Professionals working with people with ID and their families should be allowed to create a professional dialogue that would enable the discussion and clarification of the dilemmas and challenges related to the subject.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)599-612
Number of pages14
JournalSexuality and Disability
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


  • Adolescents
  • Intellectual disabilities
  • Israel
  • Parents
  • Sexuality


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