Sexuality and Disability

, Volume 37, Issue 1, pp 91–108 | Cite as

Shaping Effective Masturbation in Persons with Developmental Disabilities: A Review of the Literature

  • Frank R. CiceroEmail author
Original Paper


Individuals with developmental disabilities often encounter problems when engaging in sexual behavior through masturbation. Although sometimes taking the form of inappropriate behavior, such as public masturbation, ineffective masturbation, such as the inability to achieve orgasm through masturbation, is also encountered. The current study investigated the peer-reviewed literature as it pertains to empirically supported treatments for inappropriate and ineffective masturbation. Out of an original 1066 articles from 1940 to 2017, only 38 articles met criteria as treatment articles with masturbation as the target of study. Articles were analyzed by years of publication, desired direction of target, orientation of treatment, participant characteristics and behavioral treatments employed. Treatments were then discussed in detail with the purpose of establishing a body of empirically supported treatments for the shaping of effective masturbation in individuals with developmental disabilities. Unfortunately, results highlighted the need for significantly more clinical research before clinicians are able to rely on the literature for treatment ideas.


Masturbation Sexual behavior Developmental disabilities Autism Behavior analysis Inappropriate sexual behavior Literature review United States 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

Author declare that he has no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Educational Studies, Program of Applied Behavior AnalysisSeton Hall UniversitySouth OrangeUSA

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