Sexuality and Asperger Syndrome:
The need for socio-sexual education
Individuals living with high-functioning autism or Asperger Syndrome (AS) present with a specific sexual profile. They show the same interests and sexual needs as the general population but they differ from their peers in the manner in which they behave and manifest their interests. Their lack of social skills and their communication difficulties add to the obstacles that they encounter when they try to establish relationships (Hingsburger 1993; Griffiths 1999).
To date, research on sexuality and structured intervention programs adapted to the needs of the AS population are lacking. The purpose of this chapter is to summarize some of the sexual issues that individuals with AS may experience, and to discuss the application of a socio-sexual training program for individuals with AS. The structured educational approach employed in these groups address themes that respond to the unique socio-sexual profile presented by individuals with AS. This program also meets the growing needs of parents, therapists, and individuals. The goal in delivering this education is to allow participants to gain some independence while demonstrating the appropriate behaviours for acceptable social and sexual functioning.
Griffiths, Quinsey, and Hingsburger (1989) state that six factors influence the sexual development of individuals with developmental disorders: (1) lack of socio-sexual information, (2) sexual segregation, (3) restrictive environments, (4) intimacy, (5) medical status, and (6) developmental history including, where applicable, sexual abuse. Their lack of socio-sexual information is due to the discomfort that accompanies the subject of sexuality. Two tendencies are often