Date of Conferral



Doctor of Social Work (DSW)


Human Services


Barbara Benoliel


Sexual pleasure and intimacy are fundamental and innate human needs. Individuals with physical disabilities often find it difficult to meet these needs because of such factors as impaired mobility and lack of knowledge about sexual health. People with physical disabilities are often seen as asexual and not capable of having sex, and sexuality is often not considered a concern among this population. These misconceptions can result in individuals with physical disabilities not receiving basic sex education or advice and guidance when issues arise. Not receiving this attention may impede disabled individuals' sexual potential and personal relationships. This study's focus was on the unique challenges individuals with muscular dystrophy (MD) face regarding sexual pleasure and intimacy. Humanistic psychology and the human rights theory provided the theoretical framework for this study. Using a qualitative multiple case study approach, 4 individuals with MD were asked what sexual education, if any, they received, and if they did receive sexual education, whether it met their needs. Data were analyzed using open and axial coding. Key findings were that there is an overarching theme of sexual silence and lack of sex education for people with MD. These findings can help inform efforts to provide more inclusive education for people with MD and individuals with other types of physical disabilities. Study findings contribute to social change by showing the importance of the need for more inclusive sexual education. Providing such education will better meet the basic human needs of an often undeserved and stigmatized population and end the silence that individuals with physical disabilities have regarding sexual health and intimacy.