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Aspects of Sexuality in Adolescents and Adults Diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders in Childhood

Abstract

The literature concerning sexuality in autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) is limited regarding inappropriate sexual behaviours and paraphilias and its relation to age, verbal ability, symptom severity, intellectual ability, or adaptive functioning. A cohort of 184 adolescents and young adults (ages 15–39 years) with ASD diagnosed in childhood, including both low and high functioning individuals, was examined. The large majority were found to have a sexual interest and showed interest towards the opposite sex. Inappropriate sexual behaviours and paraphilias were reported for about a fourth of the individuals. No relationships were found between inappropriate sexual behaviours and any of the background variables listed above. However, associations were found between paraphilias and ASD symptom severity, intellectual ability, and adaptive functioning.

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Acknowledgment

This research received no specific Grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

Author Contributions

LF participated in the interpretation of the data, performed the statistical analysis and drafted the manuscript; CIG participated in the design of the study and performed the measurement; MC participated in the design and the coordination of the study and performed the measurement; BH participated in the design of the study and performed the measurement; CG conceived of the study and participated in the design of the study, EB participated in the design and the coordination of the study, participated in the measurement, in the interpretation of the data and helped to draft the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Eva Billstedt.

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Conflict of interest

Lucrecia Cabral Fernandes, Carina I. Gillberg, Mats Cederlund, Bibbi Hagberg, Christopher Gillberg and Eva Billstedt declares that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

The Medical Ethical Committee of Gothenburg University approved the follow-up studies (no 292-99 and 615-02). All procedures performed in the study were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Fernandes, L.C., Gillberg, C.I., Cederlund, M. et al. Aspects of Sexuality in Adolescents and Adults Diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders in Childhood. J Autism Dev Disord 46, 3155–3165 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-016-2855-9

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-016-2855-9

Keywords

  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Asperger syndrome
  • Autistic disorder
  • Sexuality
  • Paraphilia