Providing Education on Sexuality and Relationships to Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Their Parents
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Adolescents with ASD show interest in and desire for relationships, yet deficits in social and communication skills characteristic of ASD may impair their ability to seek and maintain relationships. Parents are often responsible for providing education related to sexuality and relationships, and many express the need for support in teaching their children about these topics. To address these needs, the present study enrolled eight adolescents with ASD and their parents in a six-session program designed to provide education on sexuality and relationships. Adolescent participants included six males and two females, all of whom were between the ages of 12 and 16 (M = 13.4, SD = 0.92).To assess the utility of the program, parents were asked to provide information on adolescent behavior, parent–child discussion of topics related to sexuality and relationships, and parent satisfaction with the program. Adolescents completed knowledge questionnaires. Following the program, parents expressed satisfaction with the experience. Parents further reported that they were discussing a greater number of topics with their adolescents.
KeywordsAutism spectrum disorders Sexuality Relationships Sexuality education United States
We extend our thanks to the staff of the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities for their support, as well as our appreciation to the parents and adolescents who participated in the program.
This study was supported by the New York State Department of Education (Contract Number C813000) and the Glens Falls Foundation M&M Fund.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of interest
All authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
As described above in the “Methods” section, informed consent or assent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study. Parents provided informed consent, and adolescents provided assent.
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