Home   News   Article

WEEKEND WEB: Sex, sexuality and stigma




Callum Brazzo
Callum Brazzo

AUTISTIC LINCS: By autistic author Callum Brazzo

Travelling forward from our column about reducing if not eliminating the need for out-of-county support, although this is a process, there are other factors to think about when supporting an autistic person.

These factors pertain to sex, sexuality and the stigma surrounding discussion around them.

If we are to make a tangible difference to autistic people’s lives then we need to have upfront conversations about our perceptions of sex and sexuality.

Sex, many will say, is a biological, binary system of identification; What you’re born with. Gender, many will say, is society’s system of identification based on norms associated with what you’re born with.

Gender and sexuality is more about how you FEEL.

First then, let’s dissect how sex impacts an autistic person’s life.

It is healthy for an autistic person, like anyone else, to have an intimate knowledge of their own bodies and the bodies of others.

Integral components of discovering this intimate knowledge include making the knowledge contextual, consensual and consequential. First, we must look at making knowledge contextual.

Working with the autistic people over time through their chosen communication, or if none seem to exist, exploring how to enable communication, can establish their cognitive capacities and depth of knowledge. A 10-year-old autistic person does not need to know what an 18-year-old autistic person would.

Their worlds tend to differentiate in terms of sexual awareness and as autistic people, they are inherently varied too, so making accommodations is key. Let’s look at making the knowledge consensual.

An autistic person may struggle understanding how a person CAN act in response to and in regards to initiating sexual exploration, especially if it’s unwanted, which can lead to severe consequences like justified legal action.

Social stories, to paraphrase Carol Gray, are ‘a social learning tool that supports the safe and meaningful exchange of information between autistic people and everyone else involved in the exchange’.

Social stories can help the autistic person understand the reason why someone would refuse sexual contact and when it is appropriate to engage in consensual acts. Having trust in the individual and developing a relationship over time is better than touching an attractive stranger in the street, for example.

Now let’s look at making the knowledge consequential.

We have to teach autistic people how to teach themselves about rejection. Social stories, visual cues and creative outlets can all aid this process.

Failing is equally important to deal with, therefore it is beneficial for the autistic person to cope with failure and being resilient.

Sexuality affects autistic people because autistic people can be gay, bisexual, polyamorous or anything else.

We cannot afford to invalidate their feelings because this leads to problems.

Mental health issues can be harder to identify in autistic people because autistic feel the need to ‘pass’ as normal. This is the result of society’s system of identifying mental health issues within the autistic community being deficient.

But being a gay autistic person with a sexually active life is not deficient. Being an autistic parent is not deficient.

We just have to look at how we get these crucial points across in terms of whether the sexual discovery and exploration is contextual, consensual and consequential.

Previously...

Enriching wellbeing and nurturing our nature



COMMENTS
()


Iliffe Media does not moderate comments. Please click here for our house rules.

People who post abusive comments about other users or those featured in articles will be banned.

Thank you. Your comment has been received and will appear on the site shortly.

 

Terms of Comments

We do not actively moderate, monitor or edit contributions to the reader comments but we may intervene and take such action as we think necessary, please click here for our house rules.

If you have any concerns over the contents on our site, please either register those concerns using the report abuse button, contact us here.

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More