"Their next hurdle will be moving from their family homes, both in Brooklyn, to a group residence. There, for the first time, Ms. Graham, who is mentally retarded, and Mr. Ruvolo, who has Down syndrome, will be permitted to spend time together in private.
The pair were coached in dating, romance and physical intimacy by a social service agency at the cutting edge of a new movement to promote healthy sexuality for the seven million Americans with mental retardation and related disabilities.
Ms. Fyne urged them to pose one sex question they had always wanted to ask. Questions included "How can you get a girl to wear sexy lingerie?" and "How do you stop somebody from being in such a hurry?"
Dr. Levy described an incident involving a client at a group home before the institute's current policies evolved. The 25-year-old resident was arrested in a public bathroom having group sex with several men he did not know. When Dr. Levy went to bail him out of jail, the young man was in tears. "Where am I supposed to go to get my needs met?" he asked.
Indeed, Ms. Fyne and others have learned that social isolation is a more pressing issue than sexuality. At an early class, Ms. Fyne asked students whether it was "O.K. to have one partner in the afternoon and another in the evening?"
The response was a wake-up call. "I don't know how to get a date, Bobra," one student called out. "So the rest of this is just garbage.""