Experiences of Sex Education and Sexual Awareness in Young Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Saturday, May 13, 2017: 12:00 PM-1:40 PM
Golden Gate Ballroom (Marriott Marquis Hotel)
S. Stagg1 and L. Hannah2, (1)Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UNITED KINGDOM, (2)Psychology, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, United Kingdom
Background:  The research investigated feelings towards sex education and sexual awareness in young adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD)

Objectives:  To compare scores on sexual awareness measures between individuals with ASD and typically developing individuals.

Methods: Data were generated from the Sexual Knowledge, Experiences, Feelings and Needs Questionnaire (McCabe, 1999), the Sexual Awareness Questionnaire (Snell, Fisher & Miller, 1991) and semi-structured interviews. Twenty typically developing and twenty ASD individuals took part. Feelings toward sex education did not differ between the groups, but the groups differed significantly on measures of sexual awareness.

Results: The ASD group reported negative experiences of sex education and issues of vulnerability, social anxiety, and confused sexuality were prominent features of the qualitative interviews.

Conclusions: Sex and relationship education is not sufficient to match the needs of people with ASD. More research is needed into how young people with ASD perceive their sexuality, and young people need a voice to express their concerns.