What are the enablers for screening and how can you become involved?

Being aware that there are many barriers that prevent people with intellectual disability accessing screening is the first step in overcoming those barriers. There are strategies that are shown to enable a person with intellectual disability to access screening.

Here are some things that you can do:

  • provide health information in an appropriate format such as easy English resources and videos
  • demystify the screening process
  • support the person to attend the screening appointment
  • work with parents/carers and other disability support workers to promote preventative health screening
  • provide information on the screening process prior to attending the appointment
  • allow time for the person to discuss their concerns
  • be an advocate for the preventative health care of people with intellectual disability

Let's see what people with intellectual disability say about cancer screening.

Cervical screening videoTiffany and Taryn talk about the Cervical Screening Test

Breast screening videoGayle and Danielle talk about mammograms

Bowel screening videoKevin and Gayle talk about bowel screening

Why don't people screen?

Research shows that people with intellectual disability are more likely to experience poorer health, die prematurely, and receive inadequate healthcare. Their risk of aged related cancers has risen as their life expectancy has increased over the years but they do not access preventative health care to the same extent as others in the community.

There are a range of myths in our community about people with intellectual disability which need to be addressed and overcome. The myths include:

  • people with disability are either asexual or sexually deviant
  • people with disability are eternally ‘childlike’
  • all people with disability are heterosexual (i.e. they are not LGBTIQ)
  • people with disability cannot make adult decisions around relationships, parenting and health
  • people with disability should not receive sexuality education as it makes them want to have sex
  • people with disability do not have sufficient life expectancy to warrant preventative cancer screening

When believed, these myths act as barriers to acknowledging that people with disability have the right to access preventative screening programs.

The facts are:

  • people with a disability have the right to choose whether they are sexual or not, whether they have sexual relationships with people of the same or different gender and whether they will have children
  • people with disability have the right to live free from exploitation, abuse and violence
  • education and information are essential if people with disability are to make healthy decisions, form positive relationships and have reduced vulnerability to abuse
  • people with disability are less likely to participate in screening and are therefore at equal or greater risk of developing cervical, breast and bowel cancer
  • people with disability have the right to access cancer screening tests

What does screening involve? >>

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