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Autistic adults at higher risk of sexual victimisation: Study

Posted on Aug 15 2014 | IANS

New York, Aug 15 : The lack of sexual knowledge in adults with autism puts them at a higher risk of sexual victimisation - sexual coercion, unwanted sexual contact attempted rape or rape, a study shows.

"Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) gain more of their sexual knowledge from external sources such as the internet and the television whereas social sources would include parents, teachers and peers," explained professor Jonathan Weiss from York University's faculty of health.

The researchers used an online survey involving 95 adults with ASD and 117 without it in age group 19 to 43.

Of the 95 participants with ASD, 78 percent reported at least one occurrence of sexual victimisation compared to 47.4 per cent of the 117 adults without ASD who participated in the study.

"Some may not know that the experience they had is actually classified as sexual victimisation. But if you give them a specific situation, like someone touching you inappropriately after you said no, they may be more able to identify that it has happened to them," said Stephanie Brown-Lavoie, a PhD candidate in clinical developmental psychology.

Researchers hoped that the study results will also lead to more programmes aimed at teaching sex education to individuals with disabilities to decrease the risk of victimisation.

The study was published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.

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