An investigation into making mainstream sex and relationship education ‘autism-friendly’

Sara Danson


Considerable attention has been given to deciphering the unique social impairments associated with autism. However, little is known about how these social deficits affect the individual’s ability to understand sex and relationship education (SRE) in school, and whether a lack of understanding of this kind of education is a contributory factor in their social difficulties beyond their childhood years. This article examines what may be missing from current SRE, and considers how this kind of education could be improved. It also discusses various common practice autism interventions into which SRE could be embedded (social skill training, social stories, and Treatment and Education of Autistic and Related Communication Handicapped Children (TEACCH)), as well as a number of key factors in ensuring successful learning on the part of students with autism (teacher and peer training, and early tuition in social skills). From my emancipatory perspective on autism I believe in teaching young persons with autism to understand non-autistic social behaviours, including relationship behaviours, not in pressuring them to adopt such behaviours.


Asperger’s syndrome; autism; sex and relationship education; social skills training


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