When people ask me what I do, my “elevator speech” goes something like this: I am a sex educator specializing in creating programs and resources for people who have intellectual disabilities, their families, and the professionals who support them.
When I tell people I’m a sex educator most people only hear the “SEX” part which results in either:
- Incredible enthusiasm stemming from an assumption that I can help them (or a “friend”) with some personal sexuality issue/ problem/ crisis OR
- An “oh” accompanied by a noticeable blush and quick subject change.
When they hear the second part, that I develop programs and resources for people who have cognitive disabilities, they’re not sure what to say. It is indeed rare to have training and expertise in both areas. Here’s how that happened:
Expertise in Sexuality
I have worked in the field of sexuality since leaving college. My first job was at Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin (PPW), a well known training ground for many professionals who work in the field of sexuality. I started in the Community Education Department as a sex educator spending my time developing and implementing sexuality programs for diverse audiences (including people with intellectual disabilities). Later I served as Director of Education and Training for the state of Wisconsin and was responsible for all aspects of the department including training staff and ensuring quality sexuality programming was being provided throughout the state.
After leaving PPW, I had time to explore additional certification and expertise. American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists (www.aasect.org) is one of the few organizations in our country that certifies sexuality professionals. The certification process involves 1) intensive attitudes & values training 2) mandatory training (90 hours) on a wide range of human sexuality topics 3) extensive academic and/or professional experience as a sex educator 4) consultation and mentoring by seasoned sexuality professional as well as 5) ongoing requirements for continuing education and training ( to learn more visit www.aasect.org ).
Expertise with people who have intellectual disabilities
Early in my career, requests for sexuality programming for people with intellectual disabilities were emerging and it didn’t take me long to figure out how much I enjoyed working with this population. I began modifying programs we were offering the general population to meet the needs and demands of parents, professionals, and individuals with cognitive disabilities.
In 1989 our first child, Anna, was born with Down syndrome. Merging my expertise in the area of sexuality with my interest and passion for supporting people with cognitive disabilities seemed a natural fit!
In 1996 I started TC services- a business that involves resource development and training for individuals with developmental disabilities (of all kinds) and the people who support them.
Since 1996, I’ve also served as Clinic Coordinator for the Down Syndrome Clinic at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. In this job, I have the privilege of serving families who have loved ones with Down syndrome of all ages.