Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 29, Issue 2, pp 121–127

Sexual Behaviors in Autism: Problems of Definition and Management


DOI: 10.1023/A:1023088526314

Cite this article as:
Realmuto, G.M. & Ruble, L.A. J Autism Dev Disord (1999) 29: 121. doi:10.1023/A:1023088526314


Surveys of sexual behavior in autism suggest a variety of behavioral expression. However, the course of sexual development in autism is unplotted, leaving questions about the normalcy of specific behaviors. Even less is known about deviations of sexual development and the incidence of paraphilias in this population. We explore the problems of definition of sexual behaviors and describe a case report that highlights the difficulties of management. An application of a testosterone-suppressing medication and its effect on sexual behavior are reported. After failure of behavioral and educational programs, leuprolide, an injectable antiandrogen, resulted in suppression of behaviors and retention of the participants' community placement. Follow-up for almost 3 years shows no abnormal physical effects. Dosage has been tapered over that period to a low but effective dose. Directions for research are discussed.

Sexual behavior in autism leuprolide antiandrogen masturbation 

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Child and Adolescent PsychiatryUniversity of Minnesota, University of Minnesota Health CenterMinneapolis
  2. 2.Department of PediatricsUniversity of LouisvilleLouisville

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