Sexuality and Disability

, Volume 28, Issue 2, pp 93–104 | Cite as

Sexual Behavior in Male Adolescents and Young Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Borderline/Mild Mental Retardation

  • Hans Hellemans
  • Herbert Roeyers
  • Wouter Leplae
  • Tine Dewaele
  • Dirk Deboutte
Original Paper


Group home caregivers of 20 institutionalized, male adolescents and young adults with Autistic Disorder (AD) and Borderline/Mild Mental Retardation (MR) and of 19 institutionalized, male adolescents and young adults with Borderline/Mild MR, without AD were interviewed with the Interview Sexuality Autism-Revised (ISA-R). Overall the individuals with AD were not significantly less sexually active than the individuals with MR. Masturbation was common in both groups. Individuals with MR had significantly more experience with relationships. No difference was found in the presence of inappropriate behavior. No difference was found in sexual orientation. Some deviant sexual behaviors (stereotyped sexual interests; sensory fascinations with a sexual connotation; paraphilia) were present in the group with AD, but not in the group with MR. A difference seemed to exist in the nature of sexual problems in the individuals with AD and MR, problems in individuals with AD being more related to an obsessive quality of the sexual behavior.


Autism Sexuality Mild mental retardation Borderline mental retardation Belgium 



We thank the participants and their parents who gave their consent to this study, and the caregivers for their commitment.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hans Hellemans
    • 1
  • Herbert Roeyers
    • 2
  • Wouter Leplae
    • 2
  • Tine Dewaele
    • 2
  • Dirk Deboutte
    • 1
  1. 1.University Center Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Antwerp, Collaborative Antwerp Psychiatry Research InstituteAntwerpBelgium
  2. 2.Department of Experimental Clinical and Health PsychologyGhent UniversityGhentBelgium

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