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Sexual Satisfaction of High-Functioning Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Abstract

This study examined the validity of the Interpersonal Exchange Model of Sexual Satisfaction (IEMSS) as a framework for understanding the sexual satisfaction of 205 adults (77 men and 128 women) with high-functioning autism spectrum disorder (HF-ASD) who were in a romantic relationship of at least 3 months duration. Participants completed an online survey that included a background questionnaire, the IEMSS Questionnaire, and a measure of autism symptoms. The results provide support for the validity of the IEMSS in that all the IEMSS components (relationship satisfaction, balance of sexual rewards and costs, balance of relative sexual rewards and costs, equality of rewards, equality of costs) were significantly associated with sexual satisfaction. Relationship satisfaction and the balance of rewards and costs added over and above the other components. The model was not moderated by gender, relationship duration or extent of autism symptoms. However, participants with more autism symptoms related to social functioning reported lower sexual satisfaction as well as lower scores on all of the IEMSS components. There were few gender differences. These results are discussed in terms of the impact of HF-ASD on adults’ experiences of their sexual satisfaction with their partner.

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Acknowledgment

The authors would like to thank Susan Voyer and Georgianna Reilly for their help with the study.

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Correspondence to E. Sandra Byers.

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Byers, E.S., Nichols, S. Sexual Satisfaction of High-Functioning Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Sex Disabil 32, 365–382 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11195-014-9351-y

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Keywords

  • Sexual satisfaction
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Sexuality
  • Asperger syndrome
  • Canada
  • United States