Abstract

Examining literature that tells us what people with intellectual disability (PWID) think and feel about their sexual lives may enable families and professionals to offer a more person-centered approach to education and support. Examining the voices of many individuals across several studies may provide more convincing evidence about the experiences of these individuals—turning a solo into a chorus. Thus, the purpose of this article is to describe the results of a metasynthesis of qualitative studies highlighting the voices of PWID with respect to relationships and sexuality. Combining the results of 16 qualitative studies, 271 participants with intellectual disability were interviewed individually or in focus groups about their feelings and experiences regarding intimate relationships. Studies were conducted across Europe, in Australia, China, and in the United States. A little more than half of the participants were male; ages ranged from 13 to 89. Results revealed two competing themes of control and desire. Participants across studies desired friendships and close interpersonal relationships, yet were restricted from developing these relationships by policies, program staff, and family members.

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