Barriers and facilitators affecting the social activities of people with congenital physical and communication disabilities are well documented. However, little is known of their experiences of developing sexual and intimate relationships. This study conducted a systematic review of the literature to address this gap in knowledge. Ten online databases were searched for relevant papers between 1990 and 2014. In addition, hand searches of Augmentative and Alternative Communication Journal and the Sexuality and Disability Journal were conducted. Fifteen papers were identified and appraised. The thematic coding approach identified six principal themes. However, the content analysis revealed that the majority of the literature focused on the social needs of people with physical and communication disabilities. Despite evidence that people with disabilities are sexually active, there is little focus on the experiences of people with disabilities developing intimacy and expressing sexuality. The few references to sexuality in the relevant literature focused on protection from abuse, though some researchers called for improved counseling on sexuality and relationships, and improved access to sexual health services. Further research is required to focus on practical and theoretical outcomes to enhance social relationships and sexuality, and offer lovers who use AAC real advice in their search for intimacy.
- Augmentative and alternative communication
- Communication disability
- Physical disability
- Systematic review