Many adults we know the spectrum are also gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, asexual, or other identifying. As a coach who focuses on ASD and independent living and facilitating social connections, some unique situations presented when exploring the dating and social scene. Many youth who are coming out or entering the dating scene in their 20′s may experience these issues, however adults with ASD experience encounter additional complexities.
I noticed some barriers in the community:
- Lack of publicly available high-quality information on safe sex practices designed for LGBT youth. Top-ranking materials on search engines were often written in medical language and at an advanced reading level.
- Realistic information and images about STDs (non-extreme) were hard to find in clinic offices, libraries, or online
- When attending screening appointments with clients, the practitioner’s questions did not elicit a complete picture of my client’s sexual health and activity. They did not anticipate how a more concrete thinking person might reply or process these questions.
- GLBTQ specialty therapists and medical professionals are sometimes unfamiliar with the autism spectrum
- Few groups or materials exist specific to queer youth with ASD, some groups have age 21 limit for participation.
- Lack of general community awareness about sexuality and the autism spectrum
I noticed some barriers faced by adults with ASD:
- Engaging in risky situations due to difficulties anticipating the ulterior motives of partners
- Lack of LGBTQA mentors to offer guidance on what is socially expected/unexpected/unusual in the community
- Their high school education offered limited exposure and understanding of STDs and their transmission
- The meaning of health practitioners standard questions was unclear to clients resulting in inaccurate replies
- Gay Community events and groups were in locations that provoked sensory overload
- Groups sometimes did not reflect the queer sub-type or age of people clients wanted to engage with
- Significant anxiety and communication difficulties prevented clients from making friends at events or going at all. Executive functioning and navigation troubles frustrated clients when they would show up at the wrong time/place or be unable to locate the group
- Clients engaged in riskier situations with people met online to supplement lack of friendships offline
- Lack of education about safe online communication practices to protect personal identifying information
- Rigid adherence to specific physical criteria and which limits options for prospective partners
- Limited social skills for feeling comfortable chatting online, rejection of trying “small talk” or disclosing too much personal information
- Difficulty generating an online profile description that reflects positive qualities and characteristics
Proposes a solution to:
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