- A brand: Ask A Dude is straight-up, a bit cheeky, and peer-to-peer; it’s meant to feel the opposite of expert-driven health education.
- A new product: Ask A Dude take real-life questions about sex and dating from adults living with cognitive disability and makes frank, funny videos where folks talk about the answers.
- New roles: Facilitators are staff trained to host watching parties and facilitate blunt conversations about sex and relationships.
- New interactions: Videos are screened at watching parties in people’s homes and pubs. They are a new kind of social event.
Ask A Dude is currently moving from a prototype into implementation and scale.
Ask a Dude grew out of 3 months of ethnographic research into sex, love, dating and relationships as experienced by adults living with a cognitive disability.
There were four major pain points: (1) staff don’t know their employers’ expectations when it comes to supporting sexualities; (2) Accurate information is withheld or only presented in a risk & safety context; (3) There are systemic barriers to relationships; and (4) Men are particularly left out of conversations.
These were men like Pat, who was very interested in sex but afraid to ask questions. He had been fed lots of misinformation to keep him in the dark, such as “masturbation makes your brain shrink.”
Research & impact
Ask A Dude builds on the limited literature base on seuxality amongst adult men with cognitive disabilities. People with developmental disabilities are at greater risk for contracting HIV and STIs than the general population. One reason is that they are underserved when it comes to sexual health education. They are often excluded from sexual health education in primary and secondary schools.
Ask A Dude uses modeling & rehearsal and contribution & reciprocity as its core change mechanisms. Content is generated by users, and conversations about sexuality are modeled in watching parties.
Core change mechanisms in Ask A Dude are:
Model and rehearse
People learn by watching peers and trying for themselves. Good interventions are peer-to-peer and experiential, not expert-led and informational. To learn more about this, and other behaviour change mechanisms, read our Grounded Change paper.
People want to contribute. Good interventions are two-way exchanges, not one-way transactions. People move from a ‘client’ role to a ‘co-producer’ role.
Ask A Dude was tested over a 6-month period. This resulted in:
- 11 video episodes produced
- 5 viewing parties with 40+ participants
- Outcomes include more comfort and less shame talking about sex; greater self-understanding; and a growing network of people that are ‘safe’ to bring questions to.
- Theory of change developed
Team & partners
Ask A Dude is one solution that came from The Fifth Space, powered by Burnaby Association for Community Inclusion, posAbilities, and Simon Fraser Society for Community Living. Implementation and scale is supported by Public Health Canada.
Ask A Dude was lovingly created by John Woods, Bobae Kim, Hayley Gray, and Irena Flego – with support from Charlotte Secheresse.