Experiences with pregnancy of adolescents with disabilities from the perspectives of the school social workers who serve them

  • Linton K
  • Adams Rueda H
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Abstract

Adolescents with disabilities are more likely than adolescents without disabilities to become pregnant, although very little is known about the lived contexts of their sexual and pregnancy experiences. Such youths are often deprived of sexual health information across a range of potential sources, although school social workers are in a unique position to provide them services. Thirteen school social workers working primarily with adolescents with disabilities were interviewed using a phenomenological study design to offer their perspectives concerning the sexual and pregnancy experiences of such youths. Inductive content analysis revealed that school social workers provided services for pregnant and parenting adolescents with a range of disabilities in areas that included making decisions about sex, deciphering whether they were pregnant, and making decisions once they were pregnant. These experiences were complicated by cognitive impairments; emotional struggles; desires to fit in with peers; histories of sexual abuse; and issues with communication, self-esteem, and impulsivity. School social workers play an integral role in preventing pregnancy and supporting adolescents with disabilities who are pregnant. Recommendations pertaining to the provision of sexual health services for adolescents with disabilities are provided. © 2014 National Association of Social Workers.

Author-supplied keywords

  • adolescents
  • disabilities
  • pregnancy
  • sexuality
  • teenagers

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Authors

  • Kristen Faye Linton

  • Heidi Adams Rueda

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