First Advisor

Randall L. De Pry

Date of Publication

Winter 3-24-2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Educational Leadership: Special and Counselor Education


Special Education




Women with mental disabilities -- Sexual behavior, Young women with disabilities -- Sexual behavior, Sex instruction for people with mental disabilities, Communication in families



Physical Description

1 online resource (xxiii, 356 pages)


The American Association of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD, 2011) assert that individuals with intellectual disabilities, irrespective of gender, have an equal right to learn about and experience their own sexuality. A review of the extant literature indicated that the voices of women with intellectual disabilities on the topic of familial culture, as it relates to sexuality, are rarely included (McCarthy, 1993; Shakespeare, 2000; Siebers, 2012).

The purpose of this qualitative study was to examine the role of familial culture and lived experiences of women with intellectual disabilities, ages 21-35, in understanding their own sexuality. Eight women participated in individual and three repeated focus group interviews. The questions that guided this study included: (1) What is the role of familial culture in addressing sexuality for young women with intellectual disabilities and (2) How do young women with intellectual disabilities describe their understanding of sexuality?

The findings of this study suggested that familial culture played a significant role in the women's decisions regarding accessing their own sexuality. In addition, data collected indicated that women's lived experiences highly influenced in their understanding of sexuality and as a women with intellectual disabilities. Data from a thematic analysis were used to develop a person-centered theoretical model for understanding sexuality. In addition, these data were used to create a research-based theatrical script, known as an Ethnodrama (Saldana, 2005) to bring forward the voices of these women affirming their understanding of sexuality.


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