Sexuality in adolescents with ASD. A challenge, or a necessary education?
People with autism spectrum disorders generally follow a normal path of physical development, with a normal pace of physical and physiological changes related to puberty, but the emotional changes and intensification of sexual needs that accompany adolescence may be delayed or prolonged.
There was a tendency to consider people with autism as unaffected by intimacy and sexuality issues, and when sexual interests and behaviors were noticed, they were treated in a negative way, largely due to the social disabilities and their associated stereotypes.
More recently, the literature indicates studies that testify to the fact that most adolescents with autism spectrum disorders engage in sexual behaviors, and want intimate relationships with other people. Adolescents and adults with TSA appear to have the same interest in the sexual aspects of life as adolescents and adults with typical development. Most adolescents and adults with autism, about 75% of them, exhibit certain forms of sexual behavior, and masturbate.
Sexual behaviors are often an area of concern, because unlike adolescents with normal developmental pathways, in the adolescents with TSA sexual needs that arise are not accompanied by socialization and understanding of the social norms governing sexual behaviors accepted by society.
The appearance of sexuality is related to social interaction, physical contact and understanding of rules that are part of social behavior. Thus, sex education needs to take into account the following: communication, cognitive and relational skills, self-awareness, and self-concept.