Sexuality of Persons with Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD)


The following is a review article on psychosexual development and functioning of persons with autistic spectrum disorders (ASD). The article discusses how the diagnosed qualities of the autistic spectrum in two main areas, i.e. difficulties in social contacts and specific behaviors (according to DSM-5), affect the development of psychosexual experiences. The first area encompasses: difficulties in building relationships with peers, problems in nonverbal communication, deficits in social skills such as compliance with social rules in relationships and empathy. The second area includes the role of specific interests, adherence to routine and specificity of sensory functioning (being oversensitive or undersensitive). The article examines the significance of following the rules, honesty, responsibility, altruism, and disorders (such as anxiety and depression) in persons with ASD for their social and psychosexual functioning. The main aspects of psychosexual experiences investigated in the article are: gender and sexual identity, partner relationships (friendships and intimate relationships), sexual behaviors (in a relationship, outside the relationship, like masturbation). Within these aspects categories of experiences, sensations, needs, attitudes, desires, expectations, and difficulties are analyzed. Special attention was devoted to adolescence in persons with ASD. Differences in experiences of persons with ASD were presented with reference to the complexity and variety of autistic spectrum disorders both in the quantitative and the qualitative dimension. Thorough assessment of the situation, including individual possibilities and limitations, and their environmental determinants is crucial to really understand the issue and avoid taking a stereotypical approach to interpreting problems related to i.e. emotional-affectionate experiences of persons with ASD.

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  1. 1.

    Depression and anxiety, conditioned by multiple factors with possible involvement of biological factors.

  2. 2.

    This research was conducted before the new DSM-5 classification, hence both diagnostic categories were indicated.


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Correspondence to Monika Parchomiuk.

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Parchomiuk, M. Sexuality of Persons with Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Sex Disabil 37, 259–274 (2019).

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  • Autistic spectrum disorders (ASD)
  • Sexuality
  • Autism
  • Asperger syndrome
  • Psychosexual aspects
  • Poland