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J Autism Dev Disord. 1997 Aug;27(4):397-413.

Sociosexual knowledge, experience, attitudes, and interests of individuals with autistic disorder and developmental delay.

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Department of Psychology, College of Social Science, University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada.


Thirty-one individuals, 15 with autistic disorder and 16 with developmental delay, male and female, were asked to select from a series of drawings depicting sexually relevant activities and to define them. In addition they were asked to describe their sexual experiences, attitudes, and interests, using a semistructured interview format. Ability to select through pointing out sexually relevant body parts or activities was not different by level of functioning, group, or gender. There were differences in providing a sociosexual label, however, with better performance for those with developmental delay and for the higher functioning. No differences were evident for sexual experiences, likely because of the considerable variability across subjects and types of activity, with some individuals reporting very many and others very few. As to attitudes, individuals with autistic disorder endorsed more sexual activities than those with developmental delay. Higher knowledge of sexuality terms and activities was inversely related to their endorsement. Literalness and perseveration were evident in the responses of some, primarily those with autistic disorder. Results are discussed for their relevance to the reliability and validity of information on sexual awareness among the developmentally disabled. Suggestions for future research are offered.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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