An Evaluation of the Tackling Teenage Training Program and Its Effects on Achieving Healthy Psychosexual Functioning in Adolescents with High Functioning Autism

Poster Presentation
Thursday, May 10, 2018: 5:30 PM-7:00 PM
Hall Grote Zaal (de Doelen ICC Rotterdam)
O. Healy1, J. Summerville2, K. Visser3, K. Greaves-Lord4, F. Boudesteijn5 and J. Holloway6, (1)School of Psychology, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland, (2)Trinity College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland, (3)Yulius, Barendrecht, Netherlands, (4)Erasmus MC, Rotterdam, Netherlands, (5)Yulius Academy, Barendrecht, Netherlands, (6)Psychology, National University of Ireland Galway, Galway, Ireland
Background: The main characteristic difficulties facing a person with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are impairments in social interaction: poor social development, especially interpersonal development; deficits in language and communication, both verbal and non-verbal, and repetitive behaviours. These difficulties can be especially compounded during the adolescent years (Sullivan & Caterino, 2008). Adolescence is considered a difficult period in ASD with problems often arising in relation to psychosexual functioning. It has been proposed that such problems may originate in limited knowledge and skills related to appropriate psychosexual functioning (Dekker et al., 2014; Stokes et al., 2007; Stokes & Kaur 2005; Sullivan & Caterino 2008). Recently, an individualised training program has been developed, specific to adolescents with ASD, to fully cover psychosexual development and the challenges that may arise- the Tackling Teenage Training (TTT) Program. Pilot results of this training program point to positive effects, in adolescents with ASD in the Netherlands. Specifically, significant increases in psychosexual knowledge was shown for those participants who received the training (Dekker et al., 2014).

Objectives: This presentation will examine the findings of a pilot study currently underway in Ireland, examining the effects of the TTT program on the psychosexual development of adolescents with ASD.

Methods: Thirty five adolescents and their parents participated in this study. We assess the participants on measures of psychosexual knowledge, sexual functioning, anxiety and behavioural and emotional problems. Self-report and parent-report on measures, across three time points during intervention are gathered, at baseline (T1), post-treatment (T2 18 weeks), and follow-up (T3 6 months post-intervention).

Results: Outcomes have been analysed in relation to changes on measures across the three time points of the study. Additional analyses have been conducted on age and trainer-reported difficulty of the adolescent during intervention, on changes in psychosexual knowledge and sexual functioning, as a result of receiving the training program.

Conclusions: Results are discussed in relation to current research and theory in the area of sexual functioning and psychosexual development during adolescence in ASD.