Note: Most Internet Explorer 8 users encounter issues playing the presentation videos. Please update your browser or use a different one if available.

Sexual Knowledge, Self-Efficacy, and Risky Behaviours: Are Young Adults with ASD At Risk?

Thursday, 2 May 2013: 14:00-18:00
Banquet Hall (Kursaal Centre)
S. M. Brown1, M. A. Viecili2 and J. A. Weiss3, (1)4700 Keele Street, York University, Toronto, ON, Canada, (2)York University, Toronto, ON, Canada, (3)Psychology, York University, Toronto, ON, Canada
Background: Knowledge and self-perceptions are important factors in the development of safe sexual practices and healthy relationships for typical developing individuals (Ajzen, 1991; Bandura, 1986; Bandura, 2001; Fisher & Fisher, 1992; Berten & Van Rossem, 2009). Parents and peers have been found to be particularly important sources of such knowledge (Beal, Ausiello, & Perrin, 2001; Diloro, Kelly, & Hockenberry-Eaton, 1999; Whitaker & Miller, 2000). Given the specific areas of deficits found in people with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD; particularly social relationships and social-cognitive processing), many may miss or misunderstand important sexual knowledge gaining opportunities. In addition, many parents of individuals with ASD may lack self-efficacy in explaining sexuality and sexual-related topics (Meister, Honeyman, Norlack, Peirce, 1994; Konstantareas & Lunsky, 1997). Although individuals with ASD have been found to display an interest in sexual interactions and engage in sexual behaviours (Van Bourgondien, Reichle, & Palmer, 1997; Ousley & Mesibov, 1991), they may not have appropriate knowledge or confidence in their abilities, and consequently may be at risk for participating in risky sexual exchanges.

Objectives: The purpose of the current study is to explore sexual knowledge (actual knowledge, perceived knowledge, and sources of information) and self-perceptions of competence in high functioning individuals with ASD as they compare to their typical developing counterparts. The current study will also examine how these factors relate to risky sexual behaviours in both groups.

Methods: Fifty individuals with high functioning ASD were matched by chronological age to 50 typical developing individuals. All participants were between 18 to 30 years of age, lived in North America, and were willing to participate in an online survey. Participants completed the Autism Spectrum Quotient (AQ-adult; Baron-Cohen, Wheelwright, Skinner, Martin & Clubley, 2001), Sexualized Behavior Scale (Mehzabin & Stokes, 2011), Revised Knowledge of Sexual Health (Walsh & Ward, 2010), and researcher created questionnaires regarding sexual knowledge sources, perceived knowledge, sexual demographics, and sexual experiences and behaviors.

Results:  The survey has been piloted with typical developing participants and data collection is ongoing. The interaction between actual knowledge and self-perception of knowledge will be examined as it relates to risky sexual behaviours. The relationship between actual knowledge and where the participants obtained their knowledge (knowledge sources) will be examined.

Conclusions: The results of this study will provide an understanding of sexual health knowledge in the adult ASD population and how this relates to risky sexual behavior. It will provide important implications for educational interventions focusing on sexual knowledge.

See more of: Core Deficits I
See more of: Core Deficits
See more of: Symptoms, Diagnosis & Phenotype
| More