Relationships

It can be hard to get information to help with relationships when you have a disability.  Many of the issues are of course the same, but disability can lead to additional complications and questions and can make it hard to know where to go for information.  Here is a selection information and links  to help for a wide range of relationship issues and they cover a wide range of disabilities. 

Meeting Someone 

It can be daunting to know where to start to build friendships and meet people, or even to work with professionals and learn to trust and open up to them appropriately.  When looking to meet people and build friendships, start by giving yourself the opportunities to meet people.  Look at the social, sports and leisure opportunities on this site for ideas and get involved.  Think about your hobbies or hobbies and interests you may want to develop if you are doing activities that interest you or that you are good at.  You will be more at ease, more confident and have more to talk about, even if you feel shy.

Start by saying, hello, making eye contact and smile.  Listen to what they say but do not just listen, try to ask them questions and listen to their answers without judging them, you do not know them yet.  Maintain the relationships you have.  Sometimes it is easy to overlook this and you can regret this in time.  People don’t know what is going on if you do not tell them.  This can be especially true at difficult times if facing health issues or emotional problems.  Identifying issues, working on them and overcoming them takes time and it is best to make use of your friends so you recover quicker, they understand better. This can get overlooked when facing many issues.  Also, when facing challenging times, you want to surround yourself with people you know well and trust.

Give friends a call, invite them out and if they need help, make the extra effort to support them.  Do not take people for granted, this can lead to regret as people may misunderstand and you may loose contact.  It takes time, lots of effort on BOTH sides, trust and luck (to find people you really connect with) but work hard at it and keep trying because relationships are important.

Relationships can present in different forms and it is important to understand the difference and the basics:

Acquaintances are people you may see occasionally or regularly, like a neighbour or a co-worker.  They are people that, while you know them and it is polite to say hello, you do not know them well.  It is good to be polite and respectful, as this helps you reduce stress and get along with the person but there is not a bond.  You do not know much about them.  Over time, sometimes acquaintances can develop into becoming friends.  This takes not just time but generally shared experiences, shared interests, respect and trust.

Friends are people you have a personal bond with possibly sharing interests, hobbies and values.  They are people you enjoy spending time with and know well.  It takes time to build a friendship and get to know people.  They are people you respect, value and care for.  It is someone you can be honest with and support.  To be a friend, both people must value and see the relationship in the same way.  Friends are people you choose to spend time with, you are not related too.  You need to trust friends. 

Some friends may be closer than others.  Close friends are people you can be more open with and share more in common with.  Some people have lots of friends, some have just a few.  While it is important not to isolate yourself, it is important to do what works for you and understand that there are different types of relationships.  Everyone’s relationships are different, but values of respect are vital.  

Romantic relationships can exist between girlfriend and boyfriend (a heterosexual relationship) or between two people of the same sex (homosexual relationship).  This is when both people are attracted to each other, such as, personally due to their personality and physically.  Romantic relationships should be equal and based on trust.  Consent should always be sorted and clear.  Having a disability can feel quite isolating but there is a lot of information and support out there.  

Relationship Links

Shane Burcaw has Muscular Atrophy and is in a relationship with a woman who does not have a relationship and they discuss their relationship openly on their YouTube channel.  https://youtube/5pWrZQZb4BM

Ambitious about Autism explores the experiences of people with Autism and relationships. There are also mini videos.  https://www.ambitiousaboutautism.org.uk/understanding-autism/are-you-age-16-25-and-on-the-spectrum/myvoice/relationships

Jump Cuts Moving On offer many films about real life and relationships as experienced by those with learning disabilities.  http://www.jumpcuts.org.uk/shop/shop/films/moving_on

Easy Read Your Way to Friendships and Relationships, Your Guide to healthy friendships and relationships in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.   https://www.healthycornwall.org.uk/pdf/YW2F&R%20Booklet%20updated%5b1%5d.pdf

Autism West Midlands.  Information on how to make friends if you have Autism.  It includes conversation starters.  https://www.autismwestmidlands.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Friendships.pdf

Meet up Groups for people with Aspergers. https://www.meetup.com/topics/asperger-syndrome/

Autism and Friendship by Purple Ellaincludes a video about making friends.  https://www.purpleella.com/2017/11/30/autism-and-friendship/

National Autistic Society, Befriending and Mentoring. To help stop social isolation if you have autism.  https://www.autism.org.uk/services/community/befriending-mentoring.aspx

Mencap Sexuality and Relationships Advice.  https://www.mencap.org.uk/advice-and-support/relationships-and-sex

The NSPCC have developed Love Life Resources made up of mini films with supporting resources aimed at SEND and looking at relationships and being independent.  https://learning.nspcc.org.uk/research-resources/schools/love-life

Growing up, Sex and Relationships.  A guide for young disabled people from Contact a Family covering growing up with a disability, friendships, relationships, contraception, pregnancy and more.  https://contact.org.uk/media/379646/growing_up_young_people.pdf

Body Sense Sexual Health Education for People with Learning Disabilities.   http://www.bodysense.org.uk/pictureyourself.shtml.  Picture This consists of picture cards and teaching notes.

Milton Keynes Council Relationship Course.  https://www.milton-keynes.gov.uk/assets/attach/24229/Relationship%20toolkit.pdf

CMG Easy Read Understanding Transgender.  http://cmg.co.uk/our-expertise/transgender-easy-read-guide/Developed by Care Management Group Supported by Change and Choice Support.

Department of Health Easy Read Having a Baby.  https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/520211/choice-Leaflet_5.pdf

Sexual Health Relationships and Parenting, 1:1 Support.  NHS Booklet Firth Valley, covering relationships, emotions, contraception, boyfriends and girlfriends, staying safe and growing up, for those with learning disabilities workbook.  https://www.centralsexualhealth.org/media/7591/ASN-workbook.pdf

Relationships.  Sexual Health and Parenthood Resource Activities.  NHS Lanarkshire.  Easy Read.  https://www.lanarkshiresexualhealth.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/18/2019/06/RSHP-Secondary-Healthy-Relationships-tagged2.pdf

Supporting people with learning disabilities to have relationships from the friendly information website.  Easy Read.  http://www.friendlyinformation.org.uk/RMBC_Supporting_people_to_have_relationships.pdf

Easy Read NHS.  Understanding Relationship Consent.  https://www.tewv.nhs.uk/content/uploads/2018/08/Consent-sex-and-relationships.pdf

Choice Support Guides to help people with learning disabilities about relationships.  Easy Read Toolkit.  https://www.choicesupport.org.uk/about-us/what-we-do/supported-loving/supported-loving-toolkit

NHS Lanarkshire.  Easy Read Understanding Transgender.  https://www.lanarkshiresexualhealth.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/18/2019/06/What-is-transgender-Final-Version-Learning-Disabilities.pdf

Enhance UK have a large range of relationship and sex disability resources that are very direct and clear, covering a wide range of topics, relationships, sexual health and much more, all aspects of sexual relationships with a disability.  They also have a relationship advice service.  http://www.enhancetheuk.org/sexy

Love Lounge.  Practical tips on disability and relationships.  https://www.enhancetheuk.org/new-the-love-lounge/

Brook Sexual Health and Wellbeing Charity.  Sex Relationships and your Rights, including disability information.  https://www.brook.org.uk/your-life/sex-relationships-and-your-rights

FPA Sexual Health Charity.  Sex and Disability.  https://www.fpa.org.uk/sex-and-disability

How to talk about your disability or impairment with new people.  Advice from Scope.  https://www.scope.org.uk/advice-and-support/talking-about-impairment-condition-new-people

Managing Friendships and disability advice from Scope.  https://www.scope.org.uk/advice-and-support/being-included-going-out-with-friends

Scope’s End the Awkward Disability.  Romance Novels Focused on Disabled. Main characters and disability romance and relationship issues in the romance story available to download online.  https://blog.scope.org.uk/2016/02/11/scopes-romance-classics/?_ga=1.155622588.629228370.1455205523&dm_i=6N7,40LE9,KWHTQV,EKYYL,1

Different Together. A website offering support and resources for those whose partner has Asperger’s or is on the Autism Spectrum.  https://different-together.co.uk

Choice Support.  Easy Read Love Sex and Relationships.  https://www.choicesupport.org.uk/uploads/documents/Love-Sex-and-Relationships-BOC-Easy-Read-Policy-and-Guidelines-Feb-2017.pdf

Live Well, NHS.  Am I Gay, Lesbian or Bisexual? https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/sexual-health/am-i-gay-lesbian-or-bisexual/ 

Guide to being Gay, Lesbian or Bisexual.  The experiences of people with learning difficulties.  Secret Loves, Hidden Lives.  Peter Bates.  http://peterbates.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/LGBT-2.pdf

NHS Wales.  Same Sex Relationships Easy Read Resources.  https://www.nhsdirect.wales.nhs.uk/easyreads/articlelist/LGBT

Relationships and Learning Disabilities.  From a social workers toolkit, a look at healthy relationships workbook.  This workbook allows people with learning disabilities to explore and understand about healthy relationships.  http://arcwhatcom.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Healthy-Relationship-Workbook.pdf

  • Bristol University do an Easy Read Resource for Challenging homophobia and hetero-sexism. Useful for understanding different types of relationships and diversity.  bristol.ac.uk/media-library/sites/sps/migrated/documents/challenging.pdf 
  • Safer Relationships Toolkit.  Options for Life worked in partnership with BILD and a grant from Sandwell Early Help Innovation Fund to create a ‘Safer Relationships Toolkit’.  The kit covers scenarios around
      • Family
      • Friends
      • Identity theft
      • Money Management
      • People you don’t know
      • Sex and Relationships
      • Social Media

http://www.bild.org.uk/EasySiteWeb/GatewayLink.aspx?alId=8112

Able Thrive is a US-based site with information for people with disabilities about relationships, friendships, and romance.  https://ablethrive.com/relationships

ADDitude http://www.additudemag.com/?s=RELATIONSHIPS.  Has many informed articles on relationship issues and ADHD, including dating, couples, marriage, divorce, friendships, socialising, parenting and more, with lots of personal accounts and lived experiences. 

Synapse have a website named autism-help.org, covering different aspects of Autism, including relationships information, including different types of relationships and difficulties in different relationships and what can help overcome this.  http://www.autism-help.org/adults-aspergers-sexual.htm

Lincolnshire Police Forced Marriage Easy Read.  https://www.lincs.police.uk/media/32238/forced-marriage-easy-read-booklet.pdf

Bracknell Forest Council Easy Read Marriage and Civil Partnership.  https://www.bracknell-forest.gov.uk/easy-read/marriage-and-civil-partnership

Access Cards.  A simple way to show people your accessibility, disability needs.  http://www.accesscard.org.uk

Dating sites for over 18s that have disabilities:

Like all the sites, these are provided in good faith but Independent and Work Ready is not responsible for these sites.

Outsiders Disability Social and Dating Club.  http://www.outsiders.org.uk/outsidersclub/.  The club involves people UK-wide with a range of disabilities, new members are checked by volunteers. There are also organised meet ups and online relationship support.

My Favourite Hello. A national dating, social  and friendship site for people on the Autism Spectrum.  https://www.myfavouritehello.co.uk/aboutus

Enable Dating is an online UK-wide dating community for people with disabilities.  https://www.enabledating.co.uk 

Mates and Dates.  Disability social, dating and socialising club with meet ups for those 18 years of ager plus from Oxfordshire or nearby areas.  https://guideposts.org.uk/mates-n-dates/

Love to Meet You. A dating and friendship organisation that organises friendship, socials and dating throughout the UK for people with learning disabilities.  https://www.hft.org.uk/our-services/empowering-individuals/friendship-and-dating/luv2meetu/

Love for Life.  A learning disabilities dating agency with meet ups.  https://www.fitzroy.org/love4life/membership/

Disabled Dating For You.  An online UK dating site covering a range of disabilities.  https://www.disableddating4u.co.uk

Happily.  A London-based disability dating agency.  https://happilydating.co.uk

 

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