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What your child psychologist can help you with? Relationship & Sexuality Education For Adolescents

Updated: Jul 16, 2023

Discussion of any topic related to sexual activities outside of marriage are generally considered taboo in Malaysia and can lead to disapproval and criticism however discussing sex and reproductive health is not necessarily taboo but vital for individuals with autism and

delay in social and emotional development. This is due to the fact that adolescents with

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) social and emotional development may be similar to that of a younger person and it is at odds with physical development and maturity, which may be the same as their peers hence the slower development may result in fewer opportunities for the individual with autism to engage with peers and develop social relationships with them. Parents and professionals should be aware that individuals with autism need support in developing appropriate peer relationships.

Gentle Reminder!! Individuals with autism have a universal right to be taught about sexuality, and yet this aspect is often overlooked.

Reasons Why Inappropriate Sexual Behavior Occurs

  1. Autism Spectrum Disorder severity - Low functioning autistic (LFA) adolescents are most likely to masturbate in public, while only some moderate functioning autistic (MFA) adolescents may do the same. MFA adolescents tend to express direct sexual interest towards individuals of the opposite sex, meanwhile, high functioning autistic (HFA) individuals are most likely to masturbate in private and often have a desire for an intimate relationship.

  2. Sensory Issues - Individuals with ASD have reduced social awareness and communication. These are imperative for understanding when sexual behaviors are appropriate. Frustration due to the variability of social rules, particularly regarding private and public places, can cause these individuals to become confused and act inappropriately, even if the action is innocent.

  3. Poor Sex Education - Individuals with ASD may possess inadequate skills and knowledge to fulfil their sexual desires.

  4. Curiosity - Some individuals with ASD are interested in the functioning of the human body.

  5. Social issues - Individuals with ASD have reduced social awareness and communication. These are imperative for understanding when sexual behaviors are appropriate. Frustration due to the variability of social rules, particularly regarding private and public places, can cause these individuals to become confused and act inappropriately, even if the action is innocent.

  6. Medications - Some medications can alter sexual desires, libido and make arousal difficult. These effects can result in increased innappropriate sexual behaviors.

By Child Psychologist

Ms. Azureen

Master of Child Psychology (M'sia)

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