Brief Report: Sexual Orientation in Individuals with Autistic Traits: Population Based Study of 47,000 Adults in Stockholm County

Abstract

We examined the association between autistic traits and sexual orientation in a general adult population (N = 47,356). Autistic traits were measured with the ten items Autistic Quotient questionnaire using a cut-off score of ≥ 6. Sexual orientation was assessed by self-report. Multinomial logistic regression was used to estimate odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for sexual orientation categories. Participants with autistic traits were more likely to identify as bisexual (OR 1.73; 95% CI 1.01–2.9) and to feel that their sexual orientation could neither be described as hetero-, homo- nor bisexual (OR 3.05; 95% CI 2.56–3.63), compared to individuals without autistic traits. Autistic traits are associated with minority sexual orientation, and perhaps with uncertain self-identification and/or a defiance of traditional ways of categorizing sexual identity.

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Acknowledgments

We thank Henrik Dal for his kind help with data management and statistical analyses.

Funding

This work was supported by the Stockholm County Council and the Swedish Research Council (Grant # 2012–2264) (CD, KK) and the German Academic Exchange Service (Scholarship-ID # 57098520) (CR). The data linkages and staff costs have also been supported by grants from the Stockholm County Council (Grant # 2007008); Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research (Grant # 2007–2064) (AL); Swedish Research Council (Grant # 523-2010-1052) (CD); and Swedish Regional agreement on medical training and clinical research (KK, JÅ).

Author Contributions

CESR contributed to the design of the study, conducted the analyses, interpreted the data and drafted the manuscript. AL assisted in statistical analyses, contributed to the interpretation of data and critically revised the manuscript. JWÅ contributed with intellectual input to the study and interpretation of data and critically revised the manuscript. CD contributed to the acquisition of data and critically revised the manuscript. KK conceived the idea for the study, together with CESR designed the study, contributed to the interpretation of data, supervised analyses and critically revised the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Christiane E. S. Rudolph.

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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 and comparable ethical standards.

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

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Rudolph, C.E.S., Lundin, A., Åhs, J.W. et al. Brief Report: Sexual Orientation in Individuals with Autistic Traits: Population Based Study of 47,000 Adults in Stockholm County. J Autism Dev Disord 48, 619–624 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-017-3369-9

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Keywords

  • AQ-10
  • Epidemiology
  • Sexual orientation
  • Homosexuality
  • Bisexuality