In honor of the proposed bill that Massachusetts wants to pass (under the guise of protecting those who cannot protect themselves – even though there are already laws out there to protect victims ‘disabled or not’ of non-consensual sex acts) that will ban consensual acts involving either those with disabilities or the elderly. You can check out what all the hubbub is about by heading over here.

I say if Grandma wants to get it on…let her! I don’t want to be watching, but to not allow her the choice is ridiculous. Remember…we will all be elderly one day. This law will one day affect you. Furthermore, I’m 28 years old and in a wheelchair. To ban consensual sexual activity from me just because I’m in a wheelchair is crap!

This brings me to my list. Society, as a whole, has many misconceptions about those of us in wheelchairs, and it all starts with conceptions about those of us in the bedroom. So, let’s get started!

1. People with Physical Disabilities are (or should be) Asexual – I get asked quite often…’so how do you do it?’ The answer is simple. I do it pretty much like everyone else on the planet. I just have to make minor modifications to my set up. For example, I don’t usually have sex on floors, couches, or standing up (no brainer!). I don’t know if people think the wheelchair turns off the sex drive, but it doesn’t. Well…at least not in my case!

I’ve found having a caring, understanding partner helps significantly. We’ve found plenty of ways to get creative and it hasn’t affected our relationship. In fact, I firmly believe it has been a strong part of our relationship since we started dating almost 7 years ago. People with physical disabilities can and do have healthy, loving, caring sexual relationships just like any other person on the planet. Furthermore…I LIKE SEX. Wow! I’m just like 99.9% of 28 year old males on the planet!

2. People with Physical Disabilities Can’t Feel Their Legs – I’m here to let you know this is NOT true. Actually, this depends on the disability. Those who have SCIs (Spinal Cord Injuries) may be paralyzed and are incapable of feeling a touch to their legs, arms, or other parts of their body. There are also other diseases that can paralyze certain parts of the body. However, there are many other disabilities that do not affect tactile stimulation. I happen to have one of them.

Believe me…if I slam my toe into the wall…I feel it! I can feel any touch to me on any part of my body. I’m not exactly sure why people have this misconception. I’m assuming it’s due to the fact that understanding of SCIs seems to be more prominent in the general public then understanding of many other disorders and diseases.

3. If you have a Physical Disability you are also Learning/Mental/Emotionally Disabled – In many cases, this is not true. Yes, some people with physical disabilities also have cognitive and other disabilities, as well. However, you shouldn’t make assumptions about someone in a wheelchair based on the chair alone.

I graduated near the top of my high school class with a 3.9 GPA. I was always in honor classes. I did well in college. I’ll never forget when a relative asked my grandfather (when she heard I had SMA) if I could walk or talk. His response was that I could walk (at that time I could) and talk better than she could! It was priceless. She truly didn’t know what to say. So, don’t just assume. If you want to know…ask!

4. People in Wheelchairs have no Hope of Getting a Job – This myth was in large part perpetuated by Jerry Lewis. He had mentioned how his ‘kids’ had no hope of growing up and maintaining employment, something that is 100% untrue. Of course, these rumors spread.

Yes, some people with disabilities are unable to find employment (just like those who can walk, these days). That being said, many folks in wheelchairs have attended college. They have Bachelor’s degrees, Masters, and PhDs. I know lawyers, teachers, business owners, biologists, computer specialists, and the list goes on. Most of my friends in wheelchairs have forms of Muscular Dystrophy, SCIs, or CP. There is no limit on what someone in a wheelchair is capable of achieving.

5. People in Wheelchairs want to be Inspirations – I don’t believe this is true, in many cases. I know that I don’t want to be an inspiration just for getting out of bed each day. When a person in a wheelchair does something that everyone else in the world does (like taking a shower) then that doesn’t make them inspiring. We’re no heroes. We’re just average individuals who have a different way of getting up than you do.

Yes, there are some people in wheelchairs who are doing great things (think Stephen Hawking – but he was destined to do great things disability or not), and they should be admired. Just don’t admire them because of their disability. Admire them for their accomplishments. In general, don’t admire us because we’re living our lives. We’re really not all that different from you!

[tags]list post, physical disabilities, misconceptions, wheelchairs, sex[/tags]

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