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Early Interv Psychiatry. 2016 Aug;10(4):282-9. doi: 10.1111/eip.12265. Epub 2015 Aug 12.

Inappropriate sexual behaviour in adolescents with autism spectrum disorder: what education is recommended and why.

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1
School of Medicine, Cardiff University, Wales, UK.

Abstract

AIM:

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder impairing social skills and communication. Adolescents with ASD have sexual needs, but may not understand their physical and emotional development resulting in inappropriate sexual behaviour. The aim of this review is to describe the type of inappropriate behaviour that presents in these adolescents, explain why such behaviours occur, suggest what education is suitable and identify current gaps in research.

METHOD:

The databases EMBASE, OVID MEDLINE and PSYCINFO were searched for relevant articles. In total, 5241 articles were found, with an additional 15 sources found via soft searches, of which 42 met inclusion criteria and were subsequently reviewed.

RESULTS:

Sexual behaviours that occur in these adolescents with ASD include hypermasturbation, public masturbation, inappropriate romantic gestures, inappropriate arousal and exhibitionism. Such behaviours are thought to be caused via a lack of understanding of normal puberty, the absence of appropriate sex education, the severity of their ASD and other associated problems. It is suggested that individualized, repetitive education should be started from an early age in an accessible form. Social skills development is also important before more technical aspects of sex education are taught.

CONCLUSION:

Despite being such a common problem for schools, institutions and families to manage, it is surprising how sparse literature is particularly regarding why inappropriate behaviour occurs and what education is effective.

KEYWORDS:

adolescent; autism spectrum disorder; education; inappropriate sexual behaviour; puberty

PMID:
26265030
DOI:
10.1111/eip.12265
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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