How to manage an autistic child’s sexual instincts

by Ilaria Lonigro - 2015.02.03
How to manage an autistic child’s sexual instincts
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Schedule a time of day for masturbating, make a pornographic book that you can enjoy and avoid watching old-fashioned films in which the women are often passive. These are some of the bizarre  but effective tips in the new manual Sexuality and Severe Autism: A Practical Guide for Parents, Caregivers and Health Educators, by Kate E. Reynolds, who is a mother of a child with severe autism as well as a specialist sexual health nurse. West has collected some of her advice to share with you below.

People with autism are not children for ever. They will get sexually excited and touch themselves, sometimes even in public if they're not used to managing their urges. That's why it's important to teach them to do this from an early age.

Looking at and touching their own faces in the mirror as well as recognising themselves in photos are all useful pastimes that help to stimulate self-perception: the autistic child must feel like an individual who is 'other' than their parents or teachers. But above all, to prevent future sexual abuse, it's essential to teach them how to say no straight away and to respect their refusal.

The third step is to draw circles of acquaintances on a sheet of paper. You should draw this pattern together and the child should keep it with them at all times to understand which people – friends, acquaintances and close relatives – should be allowed to get close to them and who shouldn't. The same method can be used to teach the child how to recognise and respect other people's emotions, by drawing the six most common feelings (happy, sad, angry, scared, surprised and disgusted) on cards that can be associated with family members throughout the day.

It's also just as important to enforce rules at home: before entering the bedroom they must knock and wait for an answer. It's a private place and the only one where you can masturbate. Don't use nicknames for the penis or vagina: use the correct words. This will avoid confusion.

And there's a ban on films such as Butch Cassidy or Fifty Shades of Grey. Certain films represent relationships and sex in terms of power, with seduction games that are difficult for an autistic person to understand – they might learn that you can seduce someone through aggression.

To avoid a situation in which they start to masturbate spontaneously in public, you have to understand what excites them sexually. It could be nail varnish or a bare chest to the sea. Then make a book of clippings with these things. The boy or girl can have some scheduled time to look at the book in their room with the door closed, so they can masturbate. So what's the secret to understanding their sexual desires? You need a very open mind and don't neglect any small detail.

Published in Autism.
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