Thursday, July 13, 2006

Truly, Madly, Deeply

This evening I watched Truly, Madly, Deeply, a Channel 4 documentary on Stars in the Skies, currently Britain’s only dating agency established by and for people with learning difficulties.

Although their disabilities are primarily physical, the majority of the people I currently work with have some form of learning difficulty, to a greater or lesser extent. Although I am obviously not at liberty to discuss their lives, I think that I can say that some of them are in relationships, and some of them are not; and that those who are in relationships have to deal with the particular pressures that brings, and those who are not in a relationship have to deal with the particular pressures that brings…

The whole ‘area’ of vulnerable adults being in potentially sexual relationships is something of a minefield, raising all sorts of potential for intentional or unintentional abuse, or accusations of abuse. It is also fair to say that certain learning difficulties are often associated with extreme obsession with the physical act of sexual intercourse, detached from any broader appreciation of the nature and requirements of an exclusive relationship. At the same time, these are individual and adult human beings, and need to be respected as such. After all, who is to judge whether any of us can make a go of being in a relationship; or deny any of us the opportunity to find out through experience? In my opinion the Stars in the Skies staff came across as caring, supportive, and responsible in both their attitude and their procedures (including chaperoning, and after-care). Minefield or no, I thought it was great to see such an initiative being taken; and fantastic to see such a positive documentary treatment of the lives of some of those involved.

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