Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Let's talk about sex and autism (reviewed)

The review from Nicola Beddows and Rachel Brooks [1] highlighting the important issue of sexual behaviour with autism in mind is brought to your attention today.

Trawling through the peer-reviewed literature looking at reports of inappropriate sexual behaviour present in adolescents diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), the authors concluded that various behaviours were included and that there were a variety of possible reasons for said behaviours. Indeed they report that: "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."

Sex education is a topic that has cropped up quite early on in the life of this blog (see here). Although jesting with the inclusion of an excerpt from a Seinfeld episode in that particular entry, the important message was that more efforts need to be made to talk about sex and the various details around the topic with young people on the autism spectrum. And when I say 'young people' I mean young people (not just as and when hair starts sprouting and other bodily changes start happening to accompany that golden time called PUBERTY).

Beddows & Brooks make some important points about how to approach the topic of sex education with autism in mind: "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." I can't disagree with such sentiments, although would also link you to some writings from an expert in this area (Dr Lynne Moxon) about sex education and the 'special' child and a document from NHS Choices covering an equally important area: sexual health. I might also add that some research groups seem to be listening to the idea that sex education training could be a useful add-on for some people on the autism spectrum [2]...

'Don't be afraid to talk about sex' is the message. So also said Salt-N-Peppa...

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[1] Beddows N. & Brooks R. Inappropriate sexual behaviour in adolescents with autism spectrum disorder: what education is recommended and why. Early Interv Psychiatry. 2015 Aug 12.

[2] Visser K. et al. Study protocol: a randomized controlled trial investigating the effects of a psychosexual training program for adolescents with autism spectrum disorder. BMC Psychiatry. 2015 Aug 28;15(1):207.

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ResearchBlogging.org Beddows N, & Brooks R (2015). Inappropriate sexual behaviour in adolescents with autism spectrum disorder: what education is recommended and why. Early intervention in psychiatry PMID: 26265030