In a conversation with Ira Epstein, an instructor for working with the mentally retarded, I asked if her charges had sexual problems and, if so, how they were solved. Here’s what she said:
“Needs, of course, exist. Everything is like ordinary people. But it’s very hard here. Not everything can be explained to them and not everything needs to be explained to them, because there is a contradiction: physically they are adults, mentally they are children. And here a serious problem – what, to whom, how to explain.
If they publicly give each other a hand, for example, or begin to cuddle, or kiss one another on the nose when they are sitting at the hairdresser, then we do them “well-well-well.” It is ugly, it is impossible. “Look, here are two counselors. They are in front of you. Do they do this? ”That is, externally they must behave within the framework, just like ordinary people. What they do in the rooms – we don’t touch them. In general, their needs are lower. Maybe they don’t need more, maybe enough that they touch each other. One another clicked on her nose – and that’s all, they are already happy. I have two girls who live in the same room, love to stroke each other, they really need this warmth and affection.
For us, the main problem is that they behave decently in society. We have almost no right to talk about anything. Maximum, if a person publicly masturbates, ask him to do it in the room. If we believe that the ward is able to understand, we should take him to a consultation where experts in this industry will talk with him and explain everything … That is, there are no physical restrictions, and if they can understand how and what, then we recommend them on family life courses. To this organization. They talk with experts there.
This requires special training. There is a department in the Ministry of Social Welfare that provides services to mentally retarded people. There is a consultation: “Social and sexual development.”
For example, I have independent wards, among whom there are couples. They went to a special course. They were taught how to act correctly from a physical point of view, how to protect themselves, how they should build relationships among themselves, what love is, what family relationships are. What is responsibility, this is daily work, not just satisfying sexual needs. What we would like to see in normal pairs!
There was such a couple. They lived for several years. They went to courses. She is arrogant, considers herself very developed, hardly accepts criticism. And he is very insecure, he felt that she was pressing on him. And she complained to him that he was very cold. He will never say a warm word to her, nor will she give a compliment. She watches TV shows, she knows that this is done (if I don’t let her see the series, she will arrange it for me …) Did not give her a single gift. And they parted.
They continue to live in the same apartment, but each now has its own room. And before they had a double bed, they had a sexual life. And they broke up like an ordinary couple: they did not respond to each other’s demands. “
Ira works with relatively independent people who do not live in boarding schools and not with parents – they have unique hostels. In closed institutions for special people, problems are exacerbated many times.
It seems to me that I got the first idea of what is happening outside the doors of such institutions after the film “Flight over the Cuckoo’s Nest” (1975). The ingenious film and the most difficult impression: absolute dependence on the arbitrariness of the staff and complete hopelessness for patients. The film ends with the scene when the leader of an Indian tribe (who feigned insanity in order not to become a working cattle) with incredible tension breaks a drinking column, knocks out a steel window grill and runs into the forest. This is a symbol: you must try to do something to break out of the swamp in which you find yourself.
Of course, the mentally retarded cannot change anything in their state, but their parents can (and do) it. Their efforts significantly change the approach to the problems of special people, their living conditions, and their integration into society.
In conclusion, I quote an excerpt from a work published in the Neva magazine in 2004:
“It grew imperceptibly dark, pulled by the river cold, and everyone began to disperse into their rooms. All that remained was me and one of the mothers, a woman who had dried up from troubles and worries in a funny straw hat. Leaning toward me and looking back at the darkness of a tall pine forest, she spoke in a thorny, smoky voice: “Helen, of course, you all understand correctly that you need to think about spirituality and so on.” Well, if you go to his room, he lies with his hands in his pants, tears flowing down his cheeks, and repeats: it’s impossible, it’s impossible, I’ll kill him, bastard … He was beaten at the boarding school for this … And I think: there would be money, I would buy a girl venal so that she caresses my boy at least once … But he pulls himself, scratches … Is it terrible , immoral to take his hand and teach him? ” (Elena Vyakhyakuopus“ Love by the rules ”; magazine“ Neva ”, No. 7, 2004.)