Relationships and sexual health for young people with SEND

Relationships are an important part of everyone’s life, including people with disabilities. 

Page contents:

Healthy relationships   

Healthy relationships are all about respecting each other.  Relationships can be confusing.  At times it can be difficult to know what is ok and what is not ok.  

Relationships should be:

  • fun
  • enjoyable
  • equal
  • supportive
  • free from pressure or violence
  • safe  

You can read about healthy relationships and where to go for more advice on our safeguarding website.  

Unhealthy relationships 

It is not always easy to spot when a relationship is becoming unhealthy and harmful or abusive.  If you are worried or unsure about something in a relationship, talk to a professional or adult you trust as soon as you can.    

This may be a relationship that started off wrong.  Or it may have started as a loving relationship, where someone is kind but then it changes, and you may feel unsafe or threatened. This can happen both online and in person. 

If someone pressures you or forces you to do something sexual or to have sex it is wrong. It is never right in any circumstances.  

Sexual violence is a term that is used to describe any sexual activity that happened without consent.   There are lots of different types of sexual violence, including rape, sexual assault and sexual abuse.  Anyone can experience sexual violence.   If you have experienced any kind of sexual violence, it was not your fault and you are in no way to blame. 

Where to go for help

You might want some advice about relationships.  Or if something in a relationship is making you feel worried or unsafe it is important to talk to someone about what is happening.     

You could talk to someone on the phone such as:


This service is provided by NSPCC to support every child or young person in the UK. You can contact them via:

Or you could talk to someone in person such as your:

  • school health nurse
  • support worker
  • youth worker
  • teacher
  • social worker
  • carer, parent or guardian

If you have experienced any kind of sexual violence, information about help and support available is on our sexual health information for young people webpage.    

Sexual health information

If you are thinking about having sex, it’s important to think about what feels right for you and to feel safe.  The legal age of consent is 16 years old.  It is ok to say no to sex.  If you are worried about consent or sex you can talk to someone you trust such as a support worker, your carer or a family member, your GP or nurse etc.

Taking care of your sexual health includes understanding:

Unity Sexual Health

Unity Sexual Health is the specialist sexual health service provider covering all areas of South Gloucestershire, Bristol and North Somerset. They provide free and confidential sexual health services for all ages and sexualities and this includes young people’s clinics for under 25s.

To make an appointment with Unity Sexual Health or to speak to someone for advice:

The Unity Sexual Health website provides details of when the telephone lines and clinics are open.

Brook as part of the Unity Sexual Health Service, focus on providing free and confidential sexual health treatment, information and advice for young people aged 13 – 19 and have a clinic in Bristol

You can also access sexual health information and services from:

GP surgery – they can provide confidential information about sexual health, pregnancy, and abortion and also provide contraception and/or testing/ treatment for STIs.

School Nurse - you can talk confidentially at their drop-in clinics at your secondary school and can contact them using the confidential Chat Health Service - text 07312 263093  (open Monday to Friday from 9am-5pm and charged at your usual rate). 

Helpful information about relationships and sex

There are many organisations and websites that provide helpful information and resources about relationships and sex such as:

  • Contact, a national charity has produced a guide that explains about growing up, making friends, sex and developing relationships when you have a disability. They have also developed a parent carer guide on how they can help and support you.     
  • NSPCC learning have resources called Love Life. These education materials are designed to enable parents, carers and professionals engage young people aged 11 to 25 in conversation and discussion about; feelings, privacy and boundaries, friendship, different kinds of love, and online safety. There are 3 helpful videos and tips to help with conversations. 
  • Mencap have a web page dedicated to sexuality and relationships advice and support for people with Learning Difficulties, with downloads and frequently asked questions.  
  • Scope has articles that can help with talking about intimacy, sex and relationships. 
  • Thinkuknow is a UK education programme to help protect children both online and offline. They have information on sex, relationships and the internet aimed at keeping young people well informed and safe. They also have a question and answer section.