of Human Sexuality
Volume 5, Oct. 23, 2002
An Evaluation of a Community-Based
Sexuality Education Program for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities
Plunkett et al
Many individuals with developmental disabilities have little or no comprehension
of sexuality and a very limited way to express their feelings (Burke, Bedard,
& Ludwig, 1998). This is very troublesome for a variety of reasons.
First, individuals with limited exposure to sexuality education and abuse
prevention may not recognize the abusive nature of sexual contacts. Therefore,
it is not surprising that research has documented a high rate of sexual
victimization of adults with developmental disabilities (Lumley & Miltenberger,
1997; Sobsey, 1994). Yet, even this high prevalence may be under-reported
since the nature of the disability can inhibit detection (Burke et al.,
Sexual victims who have developmental disabilities are often victimized
repeatedly (Sobsey & Doe, 1991). Also, sexually active adults with
developmental disabilities are in need of information about contraception
and disease prevention at an appropriate level of comprehension (Martin,
1997). Therefore, there is a strong need for effective community-based
sex education programs that can meet the needs of these individuals.
However, simply providing sexuality education to this population is
not sufficient. The quality of the program must be ensured to meet the
participants’ needs. In addition, when government budgets start to diminish,
social programs are under greater inspection and accountability by the
policymakers (Small, 1990).Therefore, the purpose of this study is to evaluate
the Responsible Choices for Sexuality© Program for Individuals
with Developmental Disabilities and
to provide implications for others interested in developing or evaluating
The following definitions will assist in the operationalization of variables,
concepts, and terms used throughout the paper.
Developmental disabilities, according
to The Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act of
2000, means a severe, chronic disability of an individual that: (a) is
attributable to a mental or physical impairment or combination of mental
and physical impairments, (b) is manifested before the individual attains
age 22, (c) is likely to continue indefinitely, (d) results in substantial
functional limitations in 3 or more of the following areas of major life
activity (i.e., self-care, receptive and expressive language, learning,
mobility, self-direction, capacity for independent living, and economic
self-sufficiency) and (e) reflects the individual’s need for a combination
and sequence of special, interdisciplinary, or generic services, individualized
supports, or other forms of assistance that are of lifelong or extended
duration and are individually planned and coordinated.
Consumer is a person with
developmental disabilities who is eligible to receive services from programs
targeting individuals with developmental disabilities (e.g., the Responsible
Support person includes
a professional and/or family caregiver who agrees to attend the Responsible
Choices Program training with the consumer.
This program evaluation was guided by the following research questions:
Go to Selected Review of Issues Related to Sexuality
of Individuals with Developmental Disabilities
How many consumers self-disclose sexual victimization and/or perpetration
during the program?
Do the support persons have a significant increase in their knowledge of
sexuality and developmental disabilities from pre-test to post-test?
Is there a significant decrease in the amount of inappropriate sexual expressions
engaged in by the consumer from pre-test to post-test as witnessed by the
Do the consumers have a significant increase in their knowledge of sexuality
from pre-test to post-test?
Are the support persons satisfied with the instructor and the program?
Are the consumers satisfied with the instructor and the program?
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