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As Diverse as the Spectrum Itself: Trends in Sexuality, Gender and Autism

  • Autism Spectrum (A Richdale and L Lawson, Section Editors)
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Abstract

Purpose of Review

The goal of this paper is to provide an update on recent findings relating to sexuality and gender in autism. The following questions were posed in the review of recent literature: What are the key emerging trends in sexuality and gender within autism, and how might these issues have clinical significance?

Recent Findings

After many years of misinformation, it is now recognised that most autistic people are interested in romance and sexuality. There is growing awareness of reduced heterosexuality and increased diversity and dysphoria in gender identity in autistic people, and initial clinical guidelines for the potential co-occurrence of autism and gender dysphoria are emerging. There is a heightened risk of inappropriate sexual behaviours and victimisation in autism, and autistic women appear to be more vulnerable in having unwanted sexual experiences than autistic males and typically developing females.

Summary

Sexuality and gender are importance topics for most autistic people. Experience and expression of sexuality and gender may differ in the autistic population compared with typically developing people, which underlies the importance of identifying, understanding and supporting the development and maintenance of intimate relationships in autistic people. We suggest a biopsychosocial and developmental framework be used to tailor individual support for sexuality and gender-related issues for autistic youth.

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Sala, G., Pecora, L., Hooley, M. et al. As Diverse as the Spectrum Itself: Trends in Sexuality, Gender and Autism. Curr Dev Disord Rep 7, 59–68 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40474-020-00190-1

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