Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental condition that affects one in 100 people. People who have ASD may experience difficulty in social interactions, have intellectual or learning difficulties and experience the same range of sexual thoughts, attitudes, feelings, desires, fantasies and activities as anyone else. Family Planning Victoria’s 40 years of experience providing education services have shown that individuals with ASD often receive inadequate or no formal sexuality and relationships education. Lack of access to information can lead to poorer sexual health outcomes such as increased risk of STIs, feelings of shame, risk of experiencing sexual abuse or exploitation, risk of victimisation or perpetration of sexual abuse or assault.
Family Planning Victoria (FPV) aims to raise awareness of the importance of reproductive and sexual health information for individuals with ASD, their families and support providers. We do this by providing positive learning lessons that are age and developmentally appropriate for individuals with cognitive disability. Individuals with ASD may lack knowledge about their sexual anatomy, safe ways of having sexual pleasure, what is considered socially appropriate in the private and public settings, laws about sex, skills to interpret social cues regarding consent, partner selection, and pornography/cyber safety—due to their limited access to reproductive and sexual health education and opportunities for social interactions.
Positive learning lessons on reproductive and sexual health education for individuals with ASD is important for enabling them to make informed decisions about their health and relationships. Individuals with ASD can explore and express their sexuality in positive and satisfying ways.
Below are some resources for additional information:
Cognitive disability and sexuality facts
FPV counselling services
Parent and carer information sessions
Group education for individuals with a cognitive disability
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