Previous blog posts on AASECT Express have highlighted the ways in which sexual education across the United States is lacking, oftentimes because of legislation that limits access to more a comprehensive sex education. But a study recently published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders shows that it can be even worse for disabled students, who are often cut out of sexual education entirely.
What are the ramifications of this educational oversight? After collecting questionnaires from 95 adults with ASD and 117 adults without ASD, it was found that, for one, the rape of autistic people is more than twice as common than that of people without cognitive disabilities. In addition, questionnaire respondents reported that they were three times more likely to have experienced unwanted sexual contact. And this number comes from those who actually have the language and the terminology to describe and understand these experiences. As this study shows, many people with cognitive and intellectual disabilities aren’t even provided with these basic tools, leaving them vulnerable to sexual assault, andalso unable to report it or pursue justice.
As for those who did have some basic sexual knowledge, they reported that they picked it up from family, friends, and online research, seeking out self-education because they felt left out of the sexual education system.
Why are they being left out? Many disabled people are desexualized by media, pop culture and their own families, who assume they're not interested in sexuality and don’t experience sexual attraction. In addition, many educators simply don't have the training to provide sex education containing information specific to their disabled students.
What can we do to remedy this? A story on Care2 ponders several possibilities.
In the meantime, you can find the study here.