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Sexuality in Adolescent Boys with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Self-reported Behaviours and Attitudes

Abstract

Differences in sexual functioning of adolescents with and without autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are understudied. In the current study, self-reported sexual behaviours, interests and attitudes of 50 adolescent boys, aged 15–18, with at least average intelligence and diagnosed with ASD, were compared with a matched general population control group of 90 boys. Results demonstrated substantial similarity between the groups in terms of sexual behaviours. The only significant difference was that boys with ASD reacted more tolerant towards homosexuality compared to the control group. Results reveal that sexuality is a normative part of adolescent development in high-functioning boys with ASD. Hence, attention should be given to this topic in education and mental health care.

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Acknowledgments

We are most grateful to all boys and their parents who participated in this study. The authors also would like to thank Hanneke De Graaf, Rutgers WPF, for sharing the SO25II questionnaire and data. Also thanks to Karin Brouwers and colleagues at Koninklijke Kentalis, Eindhoven; Liesbeth Van Vught and colleagues at Pleinschool Helder, Eindhoven; Jan Wijnja and colleagues at VSO De Korenaer, Eindhoven; Karien de Jonge and colleagues at Herlaarhof, Vught; Sussiel Brands at Leo Kannerhuis Brabant, Tilburg; Sanne Herpers and MJ Verhappen at GGzOostbrabant and our colleagues at UKJA, Antwerpen and GGzE. No grants or support were received for this work. This research project was part of the requirements to fulfil the postacademic specialist training in Clinical Psychology at Rino Zuid, Eindhoven, The Netherlands.

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Correspondence to Jeroen Dewinter.

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Dewinter, J., Vermeiren, R., Vanwesenbeeck, I. et al. Sexuality in Adolescent Boys with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Self-reported Behaviours and Attitudes. J Autism Dev Disord 45, 731–741 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-014-2226-3

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-014-2226-3

Keywords

  • Autism
  • Asperger’s disorder
  • Sexuality
  • Sexual behaviour