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Autism and Sexuality

What’s this project about?

Researchers have demonstrated that autistic people are interested in sex and engage in sexual behaviours. However, little is understood about sexual knowledge, perceptions, and experiences in autism. Knowledge and self-perceptions are important factors in the development of safe sexual practices and healthy relationships. Given the specific areas of deficits found in autistic people (particularly social relationships and social-cognitive processing), they may miss or misunderstand important sexual knowledge gaining opportunities and misinterpret sexually related experiences. In this project, we examined a variety of factors related to sexuality and sexual experiences in autistic young adults. The results of this study will provide us with an understanding of the factors contributing to knowledge, feelings of efficacy, risky sexual behaviours, and sexual victimization and perpetration in this population. Results of this study may also have important implications in the development of sexual safety training and socio-sexual curriculum development.

How did we go about doing this project?

We used standardized assessment measures and questionnaires, with 18-35 year old autistic adults and a comparison sample of typically developing adults in the same age range. Participants were recruited from both Canada and the United States. We asked participants to fill out an online questionnaire that takes approximately 30-45 minutes and provided those who completed the questionnaire with a $20 gift card.


Brown-Lavoie, S.M., Viecili, M. A., & Weiss, J. A. (September 2, 2014). Research Summary: Sexual knowledge and victimization in adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Autsim Mental Health Blog at York University.

Read the research summary

Viecili, M.A. (August 26, 2014). Radio interview with CHRY 105.5 FM.
Listen to the radio interview

McLean, S. (August 13, 2014). Adults with autism spectrum disorder at higher risk of being sexually victimized. YFile: York University's Daily News.
Read the YFile article

Viecili, M.A., Brown-Lavoie, S., & Steward, R. (October 31, 2013). ASD and Sexual Safety: From Research to Practical Implications. Half-day workshop provided to clinicians at York University.
View the presentation from this workshop

Want to know more about this project?

For more information please feel free to contact Dr. Jonathan Weiss, Principal Investigator on the study, at