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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.


"More play increases brain plasticity and makes for better recovery post brain injury"
Professor Bryan Kolb; Canada
"Poor parenting styles affects children's behavior; increased their learning disability; and had a negative impact on emotions; anxiety; anger management post brain injury"
Andrea Palacio-Navarro; Spain
"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
"Families and professionals spend time focusing on the negative aspects of ABI. Families need to be properly supported as 'resilience' is key to delivering successful outcomes for children and young people."
Roberta De Pompeii; 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
"Taking brain injured children home causes high stress for families. Disjointed services exacerbate family stress levels."
Deborah Andrews; New Zealand
"We are medical practitioners. The real experts are the parents. Over the last 35 years they have taught me everything I know"
Lucia Braga; Brazil
"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
"Too often children and young people with ABI are discharged from hospital without specialist brain support that they and their families need to overcome lifelong challenges"
Andrew Ross; former Chief Executive of the Children's Trust
"Often families don't have the financial capability to access services. We need to rethink how we delivery neuro-rehab services to children and young people"
Vicki Anderson; Australia

OUR MISSION: To work to remove (health) 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 Lottery Funded