Adolescent boys with an autism spectrum disorder and their experience of sexuality: An interpretative phenomenological analysis

Jeroen Dewinter*, Hanna Van Parys, Robert Vermeiren, Chijs Van Nieuwenhuizen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This qualitative study explored how adolescent boys with autism spectrum disorder experience their sexuality. Previous research has demonstrated that sexuality is a developmental task for boys with autism spectrum disorder, as it is for their peers. Case studies have suggested a relation between autism spectrum disorder and atypical sexual development; empirical studies on this subject, however, are scant and inconsistent. This study is based on interviews with eight boys, aged 16-20 years, with Asperger's disorder or autistic disorder. Interpretative phenomenological analysis of the data revealed three major themes relating to (a) how they experience sexual feelings, think about sexuality and think about themselves as sexual beings; (b) how they perceive messages relating to sexuality in their surroundings; and (c) how they experience finding and having a partner and partnered sex. We believe that attention to these themes is needed in assessment, education and further research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-82
Number of pages8
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017

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