Sex Education; meeting the curricular challenges for young people with multiple disabilities, including sensory impairments
Tuesday 28 February 2006
Sex and Relationship Education Resources for Children with Disabilities
note: links to external websites will open in a new window
The following list provides details of some of the SRE resources aimed
at children with disabilities in a variety of settings. Please note, they
are not available from the Sex Education Forum. Please contact the publisher
or supplier where given for further information and ordering details. You
may be able to view these resources at your local health promotion unit,
or LEA advisory service library. Out of print titles are also often available
from online book suppliers. We welcome your feedback on any of the resources
listed here. Contact us at:
Sex Education Forum
National Children’s Bureau
8 Wakeley Street
London EC1V 7QE
- email: email@example.com
- email firstname.lastname@example.org
- email email@example.com
- email firstname.lastname@example.org
- email email@example.com
Telephone 020 7843 1901
if you have suggestions for other resources you have found useful. This
list is updated regularly and can be found on our website:
Books and teaching materials
Adcock, K and Stanley, G (1996)
Sexual health education for children and young people with learning difficulties: a practical way of working. BILS/Barnardos. 104pp. A workshop training manual for staff, carers and young people with learning difficulties. It introduces basic concepts and good practice around personal relationships, sexual health, sexuality and staying safe.
Baker, S (2005)
Growing up, sex and relationships: a booklet to support parents of young disabled people. London: Contact a Family. 24 pp. This booklet has been written for parents and families whose children have physical disabilities, including those who may also have mild to moderate learning disabilities. It looks at how being disabled might impact on issues around sex and relationships and offers guidance on what parents can do to support their child as they grow into young adults and start to form intimate relationships. Includes a directory of further publications and useful organisations. The booklet is part of series of publications that have been produced by a group of organisations with expertise and experience in the field of disability and SRE. They include: the PROUD Consortium, the Arthrogryposis Group, Contact a Family, Council for Disabled Children, National Children’s Bureau and the Sex Education Forum. The booklet is available in full text on the Contact a Family website at:
Baker, S (2005)
Sex and relationship education for young people with physical disabilities: a book for teachers. London: Contact a Family. 24 PP. Focuses on sex and relationships education (SRE) for children and young people with physical disabilities, including those who may also have mild to moderate learning difficulties. It aims to provide teachers and all those who work in schools with information on how being disabled might impact on issues around sex and relationships. It provides guidance on developing and reviewing SRE policy and practice to ensure it meets the specific needs of young disabled people, and on working with young physically disabled people, carers and parents. Includes a directory of useful resources and agencies. The booklet is part of series of publications that have been produced by a group of organisations with expertise and experience in the field of disability and SRE. They include: the PROUD Consortium, the Arthrogryposis Group, Contact a Family, Council for Disabled Children, National Children’s Bureau and the Sex Education Forum. The booklet is available in full text on the Contact a Family website at:
Blake, S and Muttock, S (2004)
Assessment, evaluation and sex and relationships education: a practical toolkit for education, health and community settings. London: National Children’s Bureau. 105 pp. (Spotlight series.) This toolkit was developed in response to teachers’ and community workers’ requests for support and information, and Ofsted’s recommendations that assessment is strengthened in SRE. It puts the spotlight on why assessment and evaluation are important, offers practitioners clear advice on how assessment and evaluation can be used in SRE, and provides practitioners with practical activities for assessing learning and evaluating teaching. It includes: an overview of best practice in sex and relationships education; a summary of the theory and practice of assessment and evaluation; forty activities that can be used with individuals or groups, and can be tailored for a wide range of abilities and ages.
Living your life: the sex education and personal development resource for special educational needs. rev ed. Coventry: Brook Publications. 261 pp. Aimed at PSHE teachers and others working in both mainstream and special schools with young people who have learning difficulties, this is a revised and extended edition of ‘Living you life’, first published in 1991. It provides a programme for teaching sex and relationships education and personal and social education with young people with learning difficulties and takes into account the changes which have taken place with moves toward more mainstream and inclusive provision. The resource takes a practical approach, with ready-made lesson plans and photocopiable worksheets. Appendices include student record cards, evaluation sheets and sample letters to parents regarding the provision of sex and relationships education. Includes a ring-bound collection of 68 photocopiable worksheets. Available from Brook at
020 7284 6040 or
Christophers, H (2005)
Growing up, sex and relationships: a booklet for young disabled people. London: Contact a Family. 9 pp. This booklet is for physically disabled young people and aims to provide them with information about sex and relationships, and sexual health. It includes sections about self-esteem and body image, bullying, puberty, making friends, developing sexual relationships, contraception and sexually transmitted infections. Includes a directory of useful organisations. The booklet is part of a series of publications that have been produced by a group of organisations with expertise and experience in the field of disability and SRE. They include: the PROUD Consortium, the Arthrogryposis Group, Contact a Family, Council for Disabled Children, National Children’s Bureau and the Sex Education Forum. The booklet is available in full text on the Contact a Family website at:
Downs, C and Craft, A (1997)
Sex in context. Part one: a personal and social development programme for children and adults with profound and multiple impairments: strategies for devising a programme and recommendations for teaching and learning. Brighton: Pavilion Publishing. 240 pp. A personal and social development training and teaching pack for staff working with and caring for young people and adults with profound and multiple impairments. Suitable for use in statutory and voluntary organisations and agencies such as schools, colleges, local authority services, housing organisations, the voluntary sector and NHS trusts. Split into two sections, Section I offers information and exercises for staff groups to look in detail at their students’/service users’ current learning. On the basis of this, it helps staff teams to develop a Personal and Social Development Programme. Section II contains a variety of learning activities for students/service users with profound and multiple impairments. Covers: appearance and self-presentation; self-image/self-esteem and sexual identity; keeping and feeling safe and healthy; physical/sexual development and sexual activity; feelings and emotions; and relationships with others and social opportunities.
Downs, C and Craft, A (1997)
Sex in context. Part two: a personal and social development programme for children and adults with profound and multiple impairments: strategies for staff development and working with parents and carers. Brighton: Pavilion Publishing 309 pp. A personal and social development training and teaching pack for staff working with and caring for young people and adults with profound and multiple impairments. Suitable for use in statutory and voluntary organisations and agencies such as schools, colleges, local authority services, housing organisations, the voluntary sector and NHS trusts. Split into two sections, Section III, Staff Development, includes exercises and material to ensure staff feel comfortable working in the area of sexuality with this student/service groups. Section IV, Working with Parents and Carers, contains workshop exercises to help staff work with parents and carers.
Drury, J, Hutchinson, L and Wright, J (2000)
Holding on, Letting go: Sex, sexuality and people with learning difficulties. London: Souvenir Press Ltd. 127 pp. (Human Horizons.) Directed at parents and other direct carers, this is a practical book, well illustrated with a wealth of case studies with which parents will easily identify. It addresses the many stereotypes about disability and sexuality. It will be equally relevant to service providers where teachers and care workers may struggle to balance the need to provide ‘safe services’ whilst encouraging the development of choice and empowerment for young people who may have significant communication needs and limited life experiences.
Fairburn, G, Rowley, D and Bowen, M (1995)
Sexuality, learning difficulties and doing what’s right. London: David Fulton. 148 pp. Addresses issues that arise in relation to the sexuality of people with learning difficulties. The authors use a storytelling approach to explore the rights of people with learning difficulties to be informed about sexuality, to form relationships, and to express their sexual nature. It is intended as an introduction to some of the aspects of the moral territory in which practical decisions are embedded.
Fanstone, C and Katrak, Z (2003)
Sexuality and learning disability. fpa. 67 pp. Highlights a range of creative approaches to working with people with learning disabilities. Available from fpa Direct. Telephone: 08451 228600 or
Talking together . . . about sex and relationships. Aimed at schools, parents and carers working with people with learning disabilities. For young people aged 13+. Available from fpa Direct. Telephone: 08451 228600 or
Health Education Authority (1999)
Health-related resources for people with learning disabilities. London: HEA. A review of resources which also provides useful advice on choosing appropriate resources and using them effectively. Available in full text on the Health Development Agency website at
Johns, R, Scott, L and Bliss, J (1997)
Let’s do it: creative activities for sex education for young people with learning difficulties. London: Image in Action. 168 pp. Contact: Image in Action, Chinner Road, Bledlow Ridge, High Wycombe HP14 4AJ. Telephone: 01494 481632. Offers more than 80 drama based activities for use with young people with learning difficulties. Eight sections provide a framework for covering a complete sex education programme. These include: group building; body parts; gender; public and private; feelings; relationships; life cycle; developing skills. Adaptions are offered to meet the different needs of students. The layout is clear with each activity on a new page described under the headings of aims; resources; description; how to do it; what if?; and adaptions. A companion resource to On the Agenda, also by Image in Action.
McCarthy, M and Thompson, D (1998)
Sex and the 3 Rs – rights, responsibilities and risks: a sex education package for working with people with learning difficulties. Brighton: Pavilion. Second edition of this resource aimed at those working with adults with learning difficulties. It contains advice and materials on sex education work with individuals and groups, and practical interventions for responding to specific issues and problems which an individual may be experiencing. This edition provides information on law; confidentiality; environment and how this affects people’s sexuality; staff support and protection and safeguards. Available from Pavilion at
or Telephone: 01273 623222.
Martinez, A (2005)
Effective learning methods: approaches to teaching about sex and relationships with PSHE and Citizenship. London: National Children’s Bureau. 8 pp. (Forum Factsheet 34.) There are three elements to sex and relationships education (SRE): the acquisition of information, the development of essential life skills, and the opportunity to explore values and attitudes. The methods of delivering SRE are as important as the content. This factsheet highlights these methods to ensure effective learning. Replaces Forum Factsheet 12, Effective Learning Approaches.
Martinez, A (2004)
Sex and relationships education for children and young people with learning difficulties. London: National Children’s Bureau. (Forum Factsheet 32.) A factsheet to support staff in special schools, mainstream schools and other settings in developing and reviewing SRE polity and practice. Available to download and print from the Sex Education Forum website at
Martinez, A (2005)
Sexual orientation, sexual identities and homophobia in schools. London: National Children’s Bureau. 6 pp. (Forum Factsheet 33.) All Children and young people should feel safe and included within the school environment, and this should be highlighted by the school’s express commitment to equal opportunities, anti-bullying and anti-discriminatory practice. Personal, social and health education (PSHE) and citizenship, including sex and relationships education (SRE), should support and reflect this ethos and be sensitive to the diversity and development of sexual identities. This factsheet supports schools to challenge homophobia and develop PSHE and SRE policy and practice which addresses homophobia, sexual orientation and sexual identity, how to promote a whole school ethos, how they can challenge homophobia and bullying, and suggests ways to address diversity and difference through the curriculum. Includes a list of useful contacts.
Otten, L (1999)
A curriculum for personal and social education. London: David Fulton. 136 pp. Written by teachers from a secondary school for pupils with severe learning difficulties, this book provides a progressive health education curriculum for pupils with moderate and severe learning difficulties. Emphasis is placed on a whole school approach to sex and health education which builds on existing skills. A suggested curriculum (including activities) is provided in the areas of substance misuse and abuse, sex education, family life education, personal safety, food and nutrition, personal hygiene, advocacy and independence and leisure.
Scott, L (1994)
On the agenda: sex education for young people with learning difficulties. London: Image in Action. 188 pp. A practical guide to policy making, planning and working with young people in schools and colleges using drama and active learning methods. The first section explains the basis of the active learning methodology and its applications to students with learning difficulties. Part two takes governors and school managers through the policy making process including working with parents. The third section is a six part guide to planning and teaching sex education.
Sex Education Forum, and Council for Disabled Children (2001)
Ensuring entitlement: sex and relationships education for disabled children. Sex Education Matters, No 26 (Autumn). 8 pp. (Forum factsheet.) This factsheet will support staff in special schools and other settings in developing and reviewing SRE policy and practice for disabled children. It is in a question and answer format and deals with a wide range of issues, including formulating and reviewing PSHE policy, involving students, working with parents, social attitudes towards disability, teaching methods, choosing resources, evaluating practice and adapting SRE provision in a mainstream school to meet the needs of disabled children. Available in full text from the publications section on the Sex Education Forum website at
‘Feeling grown u’. Nottingham. Shepherd School. A series of booklets for young people on: menstruation – at home, menstruation – at the disco, masturbation – male, masturbation – female, wet dreams, use of public toilets. £2.00 each plus p+p. Available from: Shepherd School, Harvey road, Nottingham NG8 3BB or Telephone: 0115 915 3265 or
Now they are growing up . . . (What young people need to know) Nottingham: Shepherd School. A series of information booklets for parents on; menstruation, male masturbation, female masturbation, HIV/AIDS, protecting your child, a planned, dependent life and sexuality, loss. £2.00 each plus p+p. Available from: Shepherd School, Harvey road, Nottingham NG8 3BB or Telephone: 0115 915 3265 or
Wilson, L (2004)
Let’s talk . . . about sex and relationships! Sheffield: Centre for HIV/Sexual Health. 22 pp. A booklet for parents about how to listen and talk to children and young people about sex and relationships. Includes a section for parents of children with learning difficulties of special needs, and a list of contacts for more information. Available from the Centre for HIV/Sexual Health, 22 Collegiate Crescent, Sheffield S10 2BA. Telephone: 0114 226 1900.
‘It’s only natural’ . . . For parents, carers and others involved in the lives of young people with learning disabilities. Video; 20 minutes; colour; includes booklet for discussion work. £70.00. This video resource looks at issues of sexuality and sexual health with regard to young people with learning difficulties. It is accompanied by a users guide which offers discussion points for each section of the video. The video uses young people with learning difficulties to dramatise events in a further education college. It examines issues of equal access to sex education for young people with learning difficulties, parental feelings about this and the particular difficulties of ‘letting go’ they may experience in relation to their children. It could be used for session with parents or governors to look at the scope of sex and relationships education. Available from Barnardo’s, Telephone: 020 8498 7844.
Life Support Productions (1996)
Jason’s private world. 1 booklet; 24 p. 1 video; 20 mins. Animated sex education video for use by men with learning difficulties. The accompanying pack contains an introduction, viewing notes and resource list.
Life Support Productions (1996)
Kylie’s private world. 1 booklet; 27 p. 1 video; 22 mins. Animated sex education video for use by women with learning difficulties. The video has strong emphasis on consent and how to say “no”. Emphasises the use of condoms for safer sex. The accompanying pack contains an introduction, viewing notes and resource list.
Life Support Productions (1994)
You, your body and sex. 1 video; 15 mins. 1 booklet; 14 p. Animated sex education video for use by people with learning difficulties.
Life Support Productions (2003)
You, your body and sex the DVD. 20 p. Animated sex education DVD for use by people with learning difficulties. Features content and highlights from all SRE Life Support Productions videos. Contains DVD and booklet. Schools can purchase using elearning credits.
The Life Support Productions website at
details of videos and DVDs. Contact details are: PO Box 2127, London NW1
6RZ or Telephone: 020 7723 7520 or
The Lyric: Sex education for young people with physical disabilities. Scott, L London: SPOD 39 pp. A sex education video and accompanying teaching pack for 14 to 18 year-olds who have already had some basic sex education. Provides information about sex and relationships and also helps overcome taboos about physical disability and sexuality. The video is split into seven sections and uses a youth magazine format featuring lively discussions between two young presenters, followed by frank and honest real life interviews, and finishes with episodes from a South Park ‘campus-romance mini-series’. The teaching pack supports and extends the issues raised in the video with discussions and activities. The pack is primarily for use with students with physical disabilities, but can also be used to raise awareness and issues for all young people. nb SPOD no longer exists but copies of the Lyric have been sent to each local authority and should be available for loan.
National Curriculum online:
This section of the website covers planning, teaching and assessing the PSHE and citizenship curriculum for pupils with learning difficulties. It includes advice about approaches to sex education.
Useful websites (listing additional resources)
NB all external links will open in a new window
This is not intended to be an exhaustive list – simply a resource guiding you to additional sources of information.
- good list of publication
- Sex and the Law section (including Scottish Law)
- lists useful organisations
- information on current courses available
- download "Batteries not included"
- download "Sexual Health and Relationships – A review of resources for people with learning disabilities"
- download symbols / image vocabulary for children about feelings, rights and safety, personal care and sexuality
- DB-Link homepage where you can download "Introduction to Sexuality for individuals who are deafblind and significantly developmentally delayed" (Kate Moss and Robbie Blaha)
- National Children’s Bureau (not specific to Scotland) but good
list of resources
- downloadable fact sheets
- links to other organisations
- download copies of presentations and materials from previous Scottish Sensory Centre courses
- general information and good links to other organisations
- includes information on Scottish Sexual Health strategy