Thursday, February 4, 2016

Parental Awareness of Sexual Experience in Adolescent Boys with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Parent report and adolescent self-report data on lifetime sexual experience in adolescents with ASD were compared in 43 parent-adolescent dyads. Parents tended to underestimate the lifetime sexual experience of their sons, particularly solo sexual experiences such as masturbation and experience with orgasm. Parental underestimation and unawareness of adolescents’ sexual experience may influence communication and education about sex and sexuality in families. These findings have implications for the interpretation of earlier research, based on parent and caregiver reports, on sexuality in adolescents with ASD.

...Parent-adolescent agreement about sexual experiences was higher with respect to romantic relationships and partnered sexual experiences than solo sexual experiences. The majority of the boys with ASD in this study had been in a romantic relationship, and most parents were aware of this; nevertheless about a third of parents underestimated their sons’ partnered sexual experience. The underestimation of sexual experience of their sons’ might reflect limited discussion of sexual experiences between adolescents and parents. It is also possible that assumptions about their sons’ lack of sexual experience temper parents’ inclination to discuss partnered sexual behaviours with their sons. The taboo on discussing romantic relationships is possibly less strong than the taboo on talking about the sexual aspects of relationships. The higher level of agreement about partnered sexual experience might also be explained by the generally lower frequencies of partnered experiences. Given parental underestimation, the probability of agreement on the absence of a behaviour is higher in the case of low-frequency behaviours (Mollborn and Everett ). It would be interesting to examine parent-adolescent agreement on the partnered sexual experiences of older boys with ASD as it is possible that a higher proportion of them will have had partnered sexual experiences.

The number of boys who reported having forced someone else to do sexual things or having been forced to do sexual things themselves was low. Slightly more parents stated that they did not know if their son had coerced someone into sexual behaviour than reported that they did not know if their son had been victimised sexually. This finding should be interpreted with care, given the exploratory nature of this study; however parents could have doubted about the possibility that their sons coerced others to sexual behaviours...

Agreement on sexual experience between boys with ASD and their parents (N = 43 dyads)
Relational or sexual behaviourAdolescent reportParental reportParental awarenessa
Agreement on occurrenceAgreement on non-occurrenceDo not know
French kissing2660.52076.91271716.33274.4
Petting above clothes2455.81666.612631125.62865.1
Penile/vaginal intercourse1227.9866.722711227.93069.8
Making love to a boy12.3003993373990.7
Forcing someone else to do sexual things24.71503585716.33683.7
Being forced to do sexual things37133.3379212.33888.4
aParents correctly aware of the presence or absence of sexual behaviour

Full article at:

Tranzo, Scientific Centre for Care and Welfare, Tilburg University, PO Box 90153 (T618), 5000 LE Tilburg, The Netherlands
GGzE Centre for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, PO Box 909 (DP1104), 5600 AX Eindhoven, The Netherlands
Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Curium-LUMC, PO Box 15, 2300 AA Oegstgeest, Leiden, The Netherlands
VU Medical Centre Amsterdam, PO Box 303, 1115 ZG Duivendrecht, The Netherlands
Interdisciplinary Social Science, Utrecht University, PO Box 80140, 3508 TC Utrecht, The Netherlands
Rutgers WPF, PO Box 9022, 3506 GA Utrecht, The Netherlands
J. Dewinter, Phone: (0031)402613700, Email: eb.neprewtna@retniwed.neorej.

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