Sexuality, Relationships, and Sexual Health Needs of Individuals with ASD
Also inside: Dating with autism? Do relationships impact health? and upcoming events ... 
February 22, 2018
Many individuals with autism often desire relationships, romance and even sex.
In this Issue: Relationship Status - It's Complicated

Just like anyone else, many people with autism desire romance, committed relationships and sexual intimacy. However, thanks in part to a pervasive myth that individuals with autism don't want or can't form and sustain romantic relationships, many do not receive adequate education on human development, sexuality and healthy relationships.  This can leave teens ill-prepared for the physical changes associated with puberty, and can mean they are more vulnerable to sexual abuse, unhealthy relationships, and sexually transmitted infections like HIV compared with neurotypical adults. In research interviews, adults with ASD have indicated they are often unsure about how to start a new relationship, or expressed feeling heartbroken from failed attempts. This difficulty finding a partner may lead to increased isolation for individuals who do not have a strong support network.

On the other hand, many adults with autism tell researchers that they are in happy, fulfilling relationships and have satisfying sexual relationships with their partners. Others tell researchers that they are not very interested in having relationships and are content to focus on other things. As we might expect, there seems to be a great deal of diversity in sexuality and relationship goals and needs for people on the spectrum. What we can say is that everyone should have a foundation of knowledge and access to appropriate sexual and reproductive health services.

Each article in this issue of Dispatch explores sexuality  and reproductive and sexual health needs of individuals on autism spectrum. Read on to learn more...
Where do teens and adults with autism learn about sexuality and safe sex practices?
Let's Talk about Sex, Baby

For typically developing tweens and teens, sex education comes most often from peers, parents, teachers and healthcare providers. The same can't be said for tweens and teens with autism. They may not receive the typical school-based sex education, and usually have fewer close friends to confide in and learn about subtleties of romance and dating. 

Read more about Dr. Laura Graham Holmes research about how sex and sexuality is discussed with individuals on the autism spectrum. 
Young adults with ASD can face dating challenges
Call Me, Maybe? 

Oh the wild world of dating! It's confusing enough for most to navigate, but teens and adults with autism can face additional obstacles when it comes to learning the fine art of flirting. 

How can young adults with autism navigate the complexities of the dating world and learn the skills to find and enjoy fulfilling romantic relationships? 

Read more for dating do's and don'ts as well as resources to help individuals with ASD find lasting love. 
How do social relationships impact health?
What's Love Got To Do With It? 

Do we need relationships? How do relationships impact our health? Social relationships, whether friendships or intimate relationships, are closely link to overall health and well being .  

Why is Alex taking the Eagles Autism Challenge?  
To advance research that will help kids  like his daughter. 
(click below to watch the video)

We want to hear from you! What's moving you to take the challenge? Share your story with us on Facebook or email us!

Saturday, May 19th, join the Philadelphia Eagles players, alumni, coaches, executives, cheerleaders and SWOOP on Lincoln Financial Field for the 
Eagles Autism Challenge bike race and 5K run/walk to 
raise funds for collaborative autism research and programs at CHOP, Drexel University, and Thomas Jefferson University.

learn more and start your own team at
Upcoming Workshops & Events

Thursday, March 22, 2018 -  9am-4pm

Sunday, April 22, 2018 - 9am-1:30pm

Wednesday, May 30, 2018 - 9am-4pm

boy w. magnifying glass
You Can Help Us Learn More about ASD!

Advances in understanding autism and related disorders are only possible as a direct result of the participation of individuals and families. We have opportunities for all ages, and you do not need an autism diagnosis to participate.

Simply put - scientists cannot make real progress without your help. We need you!
Learn about current studies 

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The Center for Autism Research | Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
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