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Book Review: The Ultimate Guide to Sex and Disability

The Ultimate Guide to Sex and Disability by Miriam Kaufman MD, Cory Silverberg, and Fran Odette is a lovely addition to the line of guide books published by Cleis Press.  The book was originally published in 2003. The edition I own was released in 2007.

The book has a strong foundation of sexuality information. Several chapters cover anatomy, sexual health, positioning, sex toys, and topics such as kink and Tantric sex. Two chapters, Chapter 7: Oral Sex and Chapter 11: S/M, highlight aspects of sexuality that do not center on penetrative sex.

The authors are clear that being sexual includes much more than penetrative sex. There is a societal stereotype that this is the only “real” sex, and the authors make a great case for being sexual in a number of other ways. Indeed there is even an entire chapter dedicated to “Sex with Ourselves.”

The book also discusses myths surrounding sex and disability, self-esteem issues, and ways to communicate about unique needs and desires.

The best part of the book, in my opinion, was the inclusion of quotes from people with disabilities that are used throughout the book to illustrate key points and concepts. They gave the text added texture and a taste of deeply personal and diverse experiences.

This book does not focus on one kind of disability. The subtitle reads “For all of us who live with disabilities, chronic pain and illness.” Therefore, some of the discussions are brief because the scope of the book does not allow for a lengthy discourse. Parts of this book may also seem unnecessary if you have a lot of sexual experience – you might wonder why you need a refresher course on sexual anatomy, for example. But many other sex guide books on other topics, like kink and Tantra, include chapters on sexual anatomy, so don’t feel like the authors are talking down to you. This book serves as a solid introductory guidebook and the anatomy chapter is great to have on hand for reference.

Overall I recommend this book to people with disabilities who feel they are alone in the world of sexuality, as I once did. I also recommend this book to counselors, caregivers, therapists, and anyone working in a human services or sexuality field.


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