Relationships Sexuality And Intimacy In Autism Spectrum Disorders
Submitted: May 2nd 2012Reviewed: October 1st 2012Published: March 6th 2013
- Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Eastern Virginia Medical School, Norfolk, Virginia, USA
Stephen I. Deutsch
Gina M. Bondi Polychronopoulos
They Rarely Judge Others
Who’s fatter? Richer? Smarter? Prettier? Does that person have a degree from the right college or belong to the right church?
For people on the autism spectrum, these distinctions hold much less importance than for their neurotypical peers. In fact, people on the spectrum often see through such surface appearances to discover the real person.
People with autism rarely judge other people with disabilities. Where a typical peer might steer clear of a classmate with Down syndrome or a physical disability, people with autism are more likely to be accepting of differences.
When Autistic Students Are Lgbtq2+
What educators should know
date: April 24, 2019
People with autism are far more likely than the general population to have non-conventional gender identities and sexual orientations. Heres how to support them.
Note: This piece uses both person-first and identity-first language to reflect the different ways that autistic people like to be identified.
Educators are more aware than ever of the need for inclusion for students on the autism spectrum. They are also learning how to build LGBTQ2+ inclusive classrooms. But are they aware of the intersection between autism and sexual and gender diversity? Research shows that autistic people are far more likely than the general population to have non-conventional gender identities and sexual orientations.1Yet most media representations of autistic people fail to reflect this sexual and gender diversity, leaving many service providers, professionals and family members unaware of these intersections. What do teachers need to know about autistic LGBTQ2+ teens, and what can they do?
Understanding Autistic LGBTQ2+ Teens
Autistic LGBTQ2+ teens:
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Vaccination And Autism Statistics Reaffirm That Vaccines Dont Cause Autism
A significant number of studies have reaffirmed again and again that there is no link between vaccines and ASD. A 2013 CDC study, in particular, looked at the number of antigens from vaccines in the first two years of life. The results showed that the total number of antigens from vaccines was the same between autistic and non-autistic children, drawing a clear line between autism facts and myths.
Being Diagnosed With Anxiety Or Depression
Many challenges experienced by women with ASD, such as being the target of bullies, can lead to anxiety and depression. Sometimes, professionals will make this diagnosis but miss the underlying cause.
“It is more culturally acceptable and statistically more common for females to be diagnosed with depression and anxiety than males,” says Oswald. “Consequently, the underlying autism spectrum characteristics get overlooked in females.”
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Better Lessons Would Help Everyone Learn Sexuality
Judah Kalb still remembers when he was in elementary school in Chapel Hill, N.C., and tried to give his male friend a hug. A counselor reprimanded him, warning that men dont do that. Obviously, I wasnt trying to make them uncomfortable, says Judah, who is 17. From that experience, he told me, he learned the importance not only of intent, but how youre perceived.
That gap is something we all struggle with. But for autistic people like Judah, sorting out boundaries can be particularly frustrating. Questions of consent and personal space are an endless labyrinth where every word, eye movement and gesture requires translation.
I understand this well. As a person with autism, Ive struggled to assess what others need from a relationship. As a kid and young adult, I could become myopically focused on a woman I liked, no matter her reaction.
In fifth grade, I sent long-winded love letters to a classmate who didnt return my affection. In college, I continued that pattern. One night at a party, I asked an attractive woman to dance. Afterward, I got her number and suggested that we get together after exams ended. I waited a few days, then tried texting and calling. No answer. Eventually, I remembered that she frequented a particular bar. So I started going there to track her down and chat.
They Have Unusual Eating Behaviors
Unusual eating behavior is a common occurrence in most people who develop autism. Autistic kids have extreme sensitivities and preferences when it comes to food choices. This can be frustrating to deal with. Yet it is a problem that if you are aware of, can save a lot of heartache. However remember that in this age of diets, we all have at some point developed unusual eating habits.
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Gender Role Gender Identity And Androgynous Behaviour In Childhood
As shown in Table 3, both men and women with ASD rated themselves as having a less masculine gender role than the controls, according to the MFM subscale. More individuals with ASD than controls reported an atypical gender identity =10.1, =0.31, P=0.001). When separated by sex, this reached significance only for the woman. Although no difference was found between men with ASD and controls on being a sissy in childhood, women with ASD rated themselves as being more tomboyish in childhood compared with the female controls. However, regarding self-perceived gender typicality, no significant difference was shown between the ASD group and controls for either sex . Table 4 shows the correlations between the gender role and gender perception measures in ASD males and females respectively. Additional correlations as well as frequencies and percentages of non-dichotomised gender perception data are presented in Table S1S5 in File S1.
Talking About Sexual Subjects May Prove Difficult
People with Asperger’s Syndrome may get fixated on one particular topic or person, and this can lead to some miscommunications or socially awkward moments in sexual interactions. The special interest may get in the way of sexual interaction if it is too all-consuming. If the special interest is a possible partner, the partner may find the intensity off-putting. In both cases, the person with Asperger’s must make a conscious effort to keep boundaries in mind working with a therapist can help as well.
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Convert Negativity To Positivity
There are two sides constantly battling inside of us one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?
What if I mess up this speech? What if Im not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?
Its no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think youre incompetent, then it will eventually become true.
Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: Ill ace this speech and I can do it!
Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative what ifs.
Heres a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:
They Have Limited Focus
If a loved one has autism, remember that they probably have limited focus. This means that they either will zone in on a few limited things or cant focus on anything at all. However, you can turn this challenge into a positive opportunity. If you find one thing that they love, be supportive and help them flourish.
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Gender Identity And Typicality
Contradictory to the non-masculine gender role, ASD women reported greater masculinised gender behaviour in childhood as well as masculinised adult gender identity than control women. Two thirds stated that they were tomboys in childhood, compared with only one third of the female controls. The finding is congruent with earlier reports of increased tomboyism in female ASD , . Although the men with ASD did not differ from the male controls in regard to gender identity or gender behaviour in childhood, a genetic male diagnosed with gender identity disorder and ASD was initially included in this study, but withdrew . Another participant with ASD, genetic female, was similarly diagnosed with gender identity disorder. ASD is suggested to be overrepresented amongst people with gender identity disorder of both sexes . In addition, a study of people with gender identity disorder found that the genetic females reported high scores on the AQ . Only the genetic males that were either asexual or heterosexual in relation to birth sex scored similarly as high as the genetic females on the AQ . Consistent with those findings, the three participants in the current study with asexuality or gender identity disorder scored above the median on the AQ. Whether asexuality, gender identity disorder and ASD share similar pathophysiology should be further investigated.
Reflections On Parenting With Autism
Jessica Benz of Dalhousie in New Brunswick, Canada, is the mother of five children. She received her autism diagnosis as a result of seeking answers to her kids’ challenges. Here are her reflections and tips on parenting as an adult on the autism spectrum.
What led you to discover your own autism diagnosis? Do you recommend seeking a diagnosis if you think you might be diagnosable?
My own diagnosis came about as an adult after two of my children had been diagnosed and we began to discuss family history with one of the psychologists we worked with. When I mentioned certain experiences as a child lining up with what I saw in my own children, a light bulb went off.
I pursued further screening and assessment from there, if only to better understand myself as a person, and as a parent. I think that more information is always better, especially about ourselves. If someone feels like autism might be part of the tapestry making up their own lives, it is worth asking about it and asking for an assessment.
Just as we check laundry labels for care instructions, the better we understand what makes up our own lives and selves, the better we can ensure we are using the right settings in terms of self-care and interaction with other people.
Did learning that you are autistic affect your decision to have children? And if so, how did you make the decision?
What kinds of parenting challenges do you face because you are autistic?
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He Consistently Forgets Important Dates
For someone on the spectrum, they may not understand why there’s so much importance placed on certain dates. If they want to celebrate or buy a gift, they can do it any time they want, not because a specific date tells them they’re supposed to.
Myles says, “If birthdays, anniversaries, or other important events are overlooked or forgotten, try not to take it personally.”
In England Most Autistic Children Continue Their Education In Mainstream Schools
Many autistic children dont get the education they need. Most autistic children study in mainstream schools, which frequently lack resources to accommodate and tend to autistic students. Autism rates by country uncover that around 71% of autistic children in England continue their education in mainstream schools, whereas the rest decide to enroll in specialist provisions.
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Eight Challenges With Sexual Behavior And Asperger’s
Navigating the sensual social world is challenging for people across the board, but people on the autism spectrum may struggle with additional challenges in communication and social interaction. Understanding these challenges and how to overcome them can lead to a much better sexual or romantic relationship.
Should Autistic Adults Have Kids
Steven Gans, MD, is board-certified in psychiatry and is an active supervisor, teacher, and mentor at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Can an adult with autism be a successful parent? The answer is absolutely yes, under the right circumstances. While a person with moderate or severe autism is unlikely to have the skills to parent a child, many people with high-functioning autism are ready, willing, and able to take on the challenges of raising kids.
Many aspects of parenting can be tougher for moms and dads on the autism spectrum. The reverse, however, is also true there are some ways in which parenting might be easier if you’re autistic .
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Yes Autistic People Have Sex
I am an Aspie girl a proud woman with Asperger syndrome. It took a long time for people to accept this about me and for me to accept myself. It never affected my love life in any negative way. All the men and women I dated, spoke to or became involved with were wonderful and understanding, and honestly it rarely needed to get brought up. I lost some friends on the way, but it seemed that for the most part I had finally reached a place of understanding. But as I grew older I started to notice a strange trend, mostly among parents of young autistic children or older women in general, but also in peers my own age. Friends of friends and strangers are often far too forward and will ask, But what about sex?
What about it? At first I was confused. I thought they must be asking because I have a chronic pain condition which mostly resides in my pelvis, but more often than not, that wasnt the reason. They persisted with the questions, and finally said, Autistic individuals dont have sex. I had no idea what to say at all. These were what I thought to be well informed individuals, not the usual bigoted rude people who refused to accept me. These were people who presumably were on my side telling me I couldnt have sex.
Getty image by vadimguzhva.
They Live In The Moment
How often do typical people fail to notice what’s in front of their eyes because they’re distracted by social cues or random chitchat? People on the autism spectrum truly attend to the sensory input that surrounds them.
Some see the beauty that others miss, though they pass by it every day. Many have achieved the ideal of mindfulness, even if they don’t have the tools to communicate their state of mind to others.
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Myths About Autistic Parents
There are a great many myths surrounding autism. These myths can make it hard to understand how an autistic person could be a good parent. Here are just a few such misunderstandings about autism:
- People with autism don’t feel normal emotions. While people with autism may have slightly different reactions to particular situations or experiences than some of their neurotypical peers, they do feel joy, anger, curiosity, frustration, delight, love, and every other emotion.
- People with autism can’t love. As stated above, this is completely untrue.
- People with autism can’t empathize with others. In some cases, it is hard for an autistic person to put themselves into the shoes of someone else who wants, feels, or reacts in ways that are outside of their own experience. But this is true for anyone. For example, it’s hard to empathize with a child who wants to do things you dislike.
- People with autism can’t communicate well. People with high-functioning autism use spoken language as well as neurotypical peers. They may, however, have difficulty with “social communication.” They may need to work harder to make sense of body language or subtle forms of communication such as nonverbal cues.
Around 40% Of Autistic Children Do Not Speak
Others have limited communication and language skills. That said, some autistic children can tackle the issue later on, positive autism facts suggest. Thankfully, healthcare specialists can devise treatment strategies to help a kid develop their communication skills. All in all, early intervention with speech and behavioral therapy is of utmost importance.
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Sex Educationadvice & Support For:
Here we offer advice and guidance for autistic adults and parents on talking about sex and sexuality, navigating intimate relationships, staying safe, and more…
For some autistic adults, navigating sex, sexuality and relationships may be confusing or overwhelming. As an autistic person, there may be certain aspects of social interaction you find difficult. This can make things like intimate relationships more complicated.
For parents and carers, it can be difficult to know how to talk to your autistic child about sex and sexuality.
To help you with this, weve put together some advice and resources on sex, sexuality and relationships.
This page gives you an overview. For more information, select from the menu above or the guide link below.
My Husband Is Autistic This Is What It Means For Our Relationship
What its really like to be married to someone on the spectrum.
Jessica and Cj have been married for 12 years. Photo: Supplied
What its really like to be married to someone on the spectrum.
Its Thursday evening, about an hour after our four children have been in bed sleeping. My husband Cj has just gone into the study to chill out and play some games on his computer. Weve been cuddling in bed and talking – or rather, Ive been the one talking and hes been cuddling me while I do so, patiently listening as I recount my day to him. The week is almost over, and were both pretty knackered from each juggling our own various responsibilities that come with being an adult. I glance at my phone and check my email, and then update our shared calendar with various social and work commitments and then add to a few lists we share on the Google Keep app. I think forward to our coming weekend and make sure I have not over scheduled it, with gaps for down time. I tidy up around the house briefly but leave the folding of the washing to him because he likes it done just so and I figure its one less thing I need to worry about.
I often forget that not all relationships are like this. But when youve been in love with someone for 12 years, all the little adjustments you make become automatic and your version of normal.
Jessica and her husband Cj. Photo: Supplied
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