Inappropriate Sexual Behaviour

Physical Communication Cognitive Behavioural / Emotional

An acquired brain injury can lead to disinhibited or poorly controlled sexual behaviour which can involve:

  • Sexual conversation or content.
  • Comments and jokes of a personal or sexual nature.
  • Inappropriate touching or grabbing.
  • Explicit sexual behaviour:
    • Sexual propositions.
    • Exposure of genitals in public.
    • Masturbation in a public place.
    • Sexual assault.

Inappropriate sexual behaviours do not occur because the person has an increased sexual drive, but occur because the person has lost the ability to inhibit behaviour and comply with accepted social norms. They may had decreased insight or awareness of their behaviour and a lack of understanding of usual social and interpersonal conventions. They may not appreciate that they are making other people feeling uncomfortable or threatened. Sexual behaviour can then occur at the wrong time or place or with the wrong person. This can be very uncomfortable for family and friends and could result in the person with the brain injury be subject of unwanted attention or even assault.

It is important not to ignore inappropriate sexual behaviour. The only way the person is likely to realise the effects of their behaviour is to talk to them about their behaviour and other persons expectations and perceptions. If they have an awareness of how they are making other people feel they can then work on managing their own behaviour. Feedback should be early, clear and consistent to help the person to learn.

It may assist to implement strategies to minimise sexually disinhibited behaviour. Try to predict situations were inappropriate behaviour is more likely. Pre-brief the person on your expectations before going into the situation; and then debrief the person afterwards. They may have behaved really well or they may have passed a comment they should not have or intruded in someone’s ‘personal space’. By pre-briefing and then debriefing the person can start to learn an appropriate way to behave and which behaviour is inappropriate and is to be avoided. Patience is key.

Personal supervision or one to one support may be required until the behaviour can be minimised or brought under control. Additional support may have to be put in place if the person has severely disinhibited sexual behaviour and is at risk of exposing himself or inappropriately touching someone. Contact with children or other vulnerable groups should be considered and managed.


"Healthy teens are better at identifying strategies to deal with barriers. KIDS WITH ABI'S CAN'T!"
Shari Wade; USA
"Case management for children and young people post acquired brain injury is 'pivotal' to successful outcomes and must be local"
Deborah Andrews; New Zealand
"We would like to see earlier identification and support for children with brain injuries to help them succeed in school."
Dalton Leong; Chief Executive of the Children's Trust
"More play increases brain plasticity and makes for better recovery post brain injury"
Professor Bryan Kolb; Canada
"We need to harness the power of brain plasticity for treating children and young people with brain injury. Stressful experiences alter brain development of a child, especially at the key ages of 0-3 and at ages 10-16"
Professor Bryan Kolb; Canada
"When someone has a brain injury, early access to local, specialist rehabilitation is crucial to ensure the maximum recovery and make significant savings to the state in health costs"
Headway; United Kingdom
"There are problems with getting people into neuro-rehab centres. Those most in need are often those most excluded due to a lack of socio-economic resources."
Vicki Anderson; Australia
"Pediatric neuro-rehabilitation cannot be delivered in isolation. The needs of the child have to be looked at both holistically and within the context of the family unit. Parents need to be empowered to be parents in post-acute pediatric neuro-rehabilitation following brain injury"
The Children's Trust; United Kingdom
"Different 'experts' involved in pediatric neuro-rehabilitation come from different organisational cultures which causes conflict and has a negative effect on the outcomes for the child."
Barbara O'Connell; Ireland
"When different organisations assess different aspects of a child's neuro-rehabilitation needs, everyone looks at things from a different perspective and highlight needs and conflicting priorities"
Cathy Jonson; Rehab without Walls; United Kingdom.

OUR MISSION: To work to remove inequalities for children & young people affected by acquired brain injury; and provide effective support to their families that makes a real difference.

Council for Disabled Children Charity Excellence Lottery Funded