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Sexuality and Autism (Part 1)
Many parents have a great concern when their autistic child reaches the mature age of sexual maturity. Ah, what to do? Should we put our daughter on birth control? Should we try to explain sexuality to our son who can’t sit still or offer his attention for more than a minute? It is a dilemma and every child faces this time in his life.
The first question many people ask is, “Do autistic people have sex?” It’s like asking if it’s going to get dark outside tonight. Of course, the answer is “yes”. It may not be the answer you want to hear, but it is the real answer you have to face with your child.
Another question you may have is, “Should I talk about sex with my child?” This answer has a lot to do with your child’s ability level. If your son/daughter has Asperger syndrome, the answer is definitely “yes”. If your child does not have the ability to tie his shoes or feed himself, then you must determine whether your child will gain anything from this conversation.
Other parents wonder if their young adult will become sexually active. This, like so many things regarding autism, is an interesting and difficult question. First, it is not uncommon for boys and girls to masturbate. Sometimes, depending on where the person appears on the spectrum, masturbation can happen in places that can be embarrassing. During my years of teaching the autistic population, we have had this happen in the classroom from time to time. We discussed the situation with the school psychologist and his recommendation was to remove the child from the classroom and take him to the bathroom for privacy. This, I know, is not the solution that everyone agrees on. Therefore, in my opinion, each teacher and each parent must come up with their own satisfactory solution. Aside from masturbation, sexual relations with another person is quite possible. Again, it depends on your child’s ability level.
It is interesting to note that many more autistic adults are asexual compared to the rest of the population. It is also believed that there is a higher percentage of homosexuals, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered autistics compared to the general population. Part of the reason for this is that there is not such a strong need for conformity. Another interesting fact is that many more gay autists are celibate. This is by choice.
Some parents wonder if their child will ever date, find a partner, and possibly get married. Naturally, this scenario is much less than in the rest of the population. There are couples getting married. However, these are generally higher functioning autistics. Some reasons why an autistic person cannot be involved in a relationship is a simple fact that it can be very difficult for a social person to find a partner. Often, outside the norm, it is not uncommon for the female to put the mark on the male. In any case, the male, due to his inexperience, cannot react well simply because he does not know how.
Part 2 will delve a little more into sexuality and the autistic youth.
Until next time, have a great day and remember to take good care of yourself!
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