Social Workers’ Roles in Supporting the Sexual and Relational Health of Children with Disabilities

Heidi Adams Rueda, Sharon J. Bolin, Kristen F. Linton, Lela Williams, Eva Pesta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to understand social workers’ roles in meeting the sexual and relational health needs of children (aged 3–11) with disabilities. We conducted semi-structured interviews with 12 social workers from a range of practice settings. A phenomenological lens privileged the perspectives of social workers in their definitions of disability and sought to convey the meaning they assigned to their experiences of working with children in practice concerning matters related to sexual and relational health. Social workers enacted a broad definition of disability and often came to work with youth in contexts labeled as sexually problematic. In the provision of sexual health services, social workers embodied commonly adhered to roles including as practitioners, enablers, advocates, brokers, and managers. Services are needed that promote positive sexuality and relational health among children with disabilities. It is important that social workers be proactive advocates for the full inclusion of people with disabilities as equal sexual citizens.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalChild and Adolescent Social Work Journal
StateAccepted/In press - Nov 3 2016


  • Children with disabilities
  • Direct social work practice
  • Positive sexuality
  • Sex education
  • Sexual behavior problems
  • Social work roles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences(all)


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