Sexuality And Autism

Literature shows a good way to manage sexuality and autism is to teach autistic students sex education based on their individual functioning level. Research has found the medication Mirtazapine helps to address unusual masturbation behaviors in persons with autism. Sexuality and autism information and research is shared below.

Sexuality And Autism: Literature

TEAACH Report: Sex Education For People With Autism ©
Sex Education For People With Autism Matching Programmes To Levels Of Functioning

Although sex education, as indicated in assumption 3, must be taught as one teaches other skills, there are also some differences in terms of the priorities we attach to sexual behaviour and our tolerance for deviance in this area. Although people with autism do not, at least initially, see sex as very different from most concepts, the rest of society obviously does. We must therefore be very careful to emphasise sexual behaviours as an important priority and to be less tolerant of deviations in this area that we might be with more harmless self-stimulatory or other unusual behaviours.

The notion of matching teaching programmes to levels of functioning has been a vital part of the effectiveness of our teaching programmes. Just as two people with autism having differing motivations will not require the same kind of information, a person with no language and a measured IQ below 25 will require very different sex education programmes from one who is verbal with a measured IQ around 100. Obviously, a higher functioning person with more language ability will be able to assimilate more information than one with no language and very limited cognitive abilities. A second reason for matching programmes to levels of functioning is that people with autism functioning at different levels will probably have different long-range goals in terms of their life situations. An individual with autism who is expected to function independently in a normal environment will have different needs for sex education than a person expected to live in a group home and work in a sheltered workshop. The former will need more information and a greater ability to function autonomously.

Danish Report: Sexuality and Autism, Danish Report ©
by Demetrious Haracopos & Lennart Pedersen

This report describes a nation-wide survey of sexual behaviour in young people and adults with autism. The survey is the first of its kind in both a national and international context. In spite of increasing interest, there is very little empirical material available and the subject receives only limited attention in the literature. The hypotheses and assumptions of professionals in the field are based mainly upon personal or culturally dependent attitudes.

Sexuality And Autism:
Sex Education Curriculum

At home we talk and teach our loved one about sex and appropriate sexual behavior using an excellent sex education curriculum, called:

"Growing Up: A Social and Sexual Education Picture Book for Young People with Mental Retardation" (Revised Edition) Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 1989, Vol. 18, No. 3, Pages 276-276 (doi: 10.1207/s15374424jccp1803_18) by Victoria Shea, Ph.D. and Betty Gordon, Ph.D. IIlustrated by Harold Rydberg

The article "Growing Up" is available on the Web.


The Clinical Center for the Study of Development and Learning
(A University Affiliated Program for Persons with Developmental Disabilities)
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Telephone: (919) 966-5171

This sex education curriculum covers everything. The pictures do very clearly show body parts for each lesson or concept without being too sexually explicit. See below for sex education books we use for our autistic family member.

Sexuality And Autism: Research

Compulsive masturbation in infantile autism treated by mirtazapine.

Child Developmental Department, IRCCS San Raffaele Pisana, Rome, Italy. This case report describes a child with a severe autistic syndrome worsened by hypersexual behavior consisting of compulsive masturbatory activity. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors have been reported to be beneficial in reducing hypersexual behaviors. A treatment with mirtazapine improved the entire clinical autistic picture with the disappearance of masturbation. This result suggests that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors could be useful and promising tools in the treatment of hypersexual behaviors in children with autistic disorders. Moreover, the general, and in some ways unexpected, improvement of the social interaction, communication, and imagination, the dramatic reduction of aloof mannerisms, stereotypes, aggressiveness, and inappropriate emotional response to frustrations, as well as the first appearance of the pragmatic use of language and a strong impetus to emotional development disclosed a new spectrum of possible applications of these drugs, and mirtazapine in particular, suggesting the need for new and more extensive studies on the pharmacotherapy of autism. Pediatric Neurology Volume 34, Issue 5, May 2006, Pages 417-418

Sexuality And Autism: Books

Our family finds the books below to be very useful in teaching our autistic loved one about sexuality. The language and pictures make these books easy to understand and to talk about.

Return to Autism Information

Return to Home page