Answered Questions for February 2022: Intimacy and People with Disabilities

Answered Questions is a monthly resource for the Spanish language Disability Community that fills an information need. This month’s question is I am a parent of a young adult with a disability, and I want to ensure that they are prepared for healthy relationships. What resources, information and research are available to help my young adult? This edition of Answered Questions includes items that discuss SkillTalk, a microskills training program for young adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD); intellectual disability, intimacy, and relationships; interventions to increase marriage stability for people with traumatic brain injury and their partners; a brief couples’ therapy program to increase supports; the 1st National Congress on Sexuality and Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities in the Canary Islands; and more. More about Answered Questions.

NIDILRR-Funded Projects:

Microskills such as showing empathy, active listening, and open-ended questioning can help build relationships. SkillTalk: Using Streaming Video for Young Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder to Build Microskills to Develop and Sustain Relationships for Healthy and Independent Living (in English), a NIDILRR-funded Phase II Small Business Innovation Research project, builds upon previous research to complete the development and evaluation of SkillTalk, a video-delivered microskills training program to improve relationship skills among transition-age adults between 18 and 28 years old with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The outcomes of this project include the completion and established effectiveness of the SkillTalk training resources, a program that is usable and well-liked by target audiences resulting in better relationship and mental health outcomes for young adults with ASD.

From the NARIC Collection:

The article, Restrictions, power, companionship, and intimacy: A metasynthesis of people with intellectual disability speaking about sex and relationships (in English), presents the results of a metasynthesis of qualitative studies conducted across Europe, Australia, China, and the US, that highlight the voices of people with intellectual disabilities (ID) with respect to relationships and sexuality. The results revealed two competing themes of control versus desire. Control included people with ID feeling as if other people, such as parents or service providers, regulated their sexual experiences without their input and generally feeling as if they had no control over their ability to express their sexuality and having sexual experiences. The category of desire included wanting long-term committed relationships and someone they could talk to about sexuality and relationships.

The article, Friendships and intimacy: Promoting the maintenance and development of relationships in residential neurorehabilitation (in English), presents a framework for considering interventions around personal and intimate relationships after a brain injury, taking into account the complexities of risk assessment and risk management. The article uses case examples to illustrate how the framework may assist in clinical practice. The authors provide a framework to help clinicians working with complex clinical cases to think through options for intervention to maintain or develop friendships and intimacy while taking into account factors that affect risk management.

Research In Focus:

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) may lead to significant changes in a person’s personality, cognitive abilities, social roles, and employment status. These changes may be challenging to relationships, including marriage. The article, New Findings May Offer Insight for Interventions to Strengthen Long Term Marriage Stability for People with Traumatic Brain Injury, discusses a study from the TBI Model System Centers in Colorado, Indiana, and Ohio that looked at marital stability, rate of change in marital status, and predictors of marital stability over 10 years after the initial injury. The results showed that the majority of participants stayed married to the same partner after ten years, the greatest marital loss occurred between the time of injury and one year after the injury, and chances of remaining married were higher for female and older participants, among others. The authors noted that the results may offer broader insight into predictors for marital stability for people with TBI. This article is also available in English.

The article, A Brief Couples Therapy Program May Provide Needed Supports of People with Brain Injuries, discusses a study that specifically looked at the effects of the Therapeutic Couples Intervention (TCI) for the uninjured partners of persons with brain injuries. The researchers found that the partners who participated in the TCI group reported a decrease in caregiver burden after the program. The authors noted that a brief couples’ therapy program may not only improve the quality of the relationship but may also increase needed supports and reduce the burden for the uninjured partner in the relationship. This article is also available in English.


The article, More information and respect is needed for the privacy and diversity in the sexuality of people with intellectual or developmental disabilities, discusses the results of the 1st National Congress on Sexuality and Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities in the Canary Islands. Three-hundred specialists gathered and reflected on the rights of people with intellectual or developmental disabilities (IDD), who face great obstacles to enjoying their sexuality in a free and healthy way. During the sessions, more autonomy was demanded for people with IDD in regard to gender, sexuality, intimacy, and the intersection of intimacy and disability. Other sessions defended the richness of the different sexual orientations, as well as the need to apply a greater gender identity to the approaches made by support organizations for people with IDD.


Training Manuals:

  • The manual, Conversations about intimacy and sexuality: A training toolkit using motivational interviewing (MI) (in English), contains information related to preparing direct service personnel to have productive conversations about intimacy and sexuality with people with mental health conditions. The manual begins with an overview of the intersections of intimacy, sexuality, and recovery for people with mental health conditions and details idiosyncratic obstacles to expression of this part of adult life. This manual is guided by the recovery framework and MI and contains experiential exercises with instructions, evaluation forms, hyperlinks to resources, and references to be used by trainers.

Further Research:




About Answered Questions Each month, we look through the searches on our blog and through the information requests made by our patrons who speak Spanish and pick a topic that fills the largest need. Each resource mentioned above is associated with this month’s information need. We search the various Spanish language news sources and feeds throughout the month to bring you these articles. With the exception of the NIDILRR Projects, From the NARIC Collection, and Further Investigation, all the linked articles and resources are in Spanish – any that are in English will be clearly marked.

About mpgarcia

I'm the Bilingual Information/Media Specialist at NARIC.
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