Improving the quality of life for people with autism


Autism-Europe aisbl is an international association whose main objective is to advance the rights of people with autism and their families and to help them improve their quality of life.
Autism-Europe plays a key role in raising public awareness, and in influencing European decision-makers on all issues related to the rights of people with autism.


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World Contraception Day 2014: Making sex education accessible to all Europeans

World Contraception Day on September 26, is an important reminder that it is essential for all young people and adults - including people with learning disabilities - to make informed decisions regarding their sexual life and reproductive health.

This year’s motto, “It´s your life, it´s your future”, accurately pinpoints the core issue in providing efficient sexual education and family planning solutions – that of giving people informaation and options tailored to both their specific needs and life choices.

Unfortunately, not all adults are allowed to make their own decisions when it comes to their sexual life and reproductive rights, as people with learning disabilities continue to face discrimination in Europe and around the world, in terms of freedom of choice and access to information.

Article 23 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) provides that people with learning disabilities have a right to “found a family”, “freely decide on the number and spacing of children” and “retain their fertility on an equal basis with others”. Furthermore, Article 25 on Health, upholds that “free and informed consent” must be the basis of providing healthcare.

Sadly, a striking gap still exists between the provisions of the UN CRPD and reality. Throughout Europe thousands of people with learning disabilities are victims of sexual abuse and blatant violations of their human rights. These violations include forced sterilisation and coerced abortions. Therefore we need to urgently enforce the respect of the rights of people with learning disabilities and put an end to these violent practices. Enforcing these rights also includes providing accessible information to people with learning disabilities about sexuality and relationships, in a creative and innovative way.

Sexual Education for Adults with Disabilities, their parents and staff, or “SEAD”, is a European initiative designed to tackle such issues and provide an effective and accessible manner of teaching sex education and family planning to people with learning disabilities.

The project is the result of the cooperation between nine organizations (representing people with disabilities and the education sector) from seven EU countries: Autism-Europe (Belgium), Ammattiopsto Luovi (Finland), Bergische Volkshochschule and EuConcilia (Germany), Molnár Gábor Műhely Alapítvány (Hungary), The Kaunas centre for young people with disabilities (Lithuania), Hogeschool van Arnhem en Nijmegen (the Netherlands), CHANGE and the University of Sheffield (United Kingdom).

SEAD’s aim is to address the lack of accessible information and knowledge of adults with disabilities, their parents, and staff in the field of sexual education, from a creative perspective, adapted to their specific needs. It will be achieved through the development of a comprehensive toolkit combining activities like role and drama play, with pictures, audio/video materials and tools. The project partners believe that this alternative way of facilitating education through innovation and arts is an excellent way of fostering the social inclusion of people with disabilities, as well as key to supporting their personal development.

One of the teaching aids developed by SEAD is the Wordbank, a carefully compiled glossary of elementary terms for discussing sex and relationships, in easy to read format.
SEAD is an invitation to initiate dialogue on the subject of contraception, family planning and sex education, open to all European citizens, with this aim campaign days on sexual education for people with learning disabilities are planned across Europe. 

More information and interviews, please do not hesitate to contact Aurélie Baranger, Director of Autism-Europe, in Brussels:
Tel: +32 (0)2 675 75 05. Email:

The Wordbank tool on the SEAD website.


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