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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.


"Intensive and individualized approaches work. A one-size-fits-all approach doesn't. You have to make it relevant to the child."
Recolo; United Kingdom
"More play increases brain plasticity and makes for better recovery post brain injury"
Professor Bryan Kolb; Canada
"New parenting support intervention showed how parenting style is related to executive dysfunction in children and young people post brain injury. With support parents cope better so the child has a better recovery"
Andrea Palacio-Navarro; Spain
"Case management for children and young people post acquired brain injury is 'pivotal' to successful outcomes and must be local"
Deborah Andrews; New Zealand
"Rehabilitation interventions can lead to positive outcomes for children and their families if delivered in the familiar home environment and applied to everyday situations"
Cerebra; United Kingdom
"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
"Thousands of children and young people living in the UK today without the help and support that can make a huge difference to their lives"
Dalton Leong; Chief Executive of the Children's Trust
"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
"NHS clinicians struggle with what intervention to priorities in pediatric neuro-rehabilitation due to limited clinical time and the complexity of needs. Children, clinicians, parents and schools all have different neuro-rehabilitation priorities"
Recolo; United Kingdom

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