Sexual behaviors in individuals with developmental disorders

Sexual Behaviors In Individuals With Developmental Disorders

Sexual behaviors in individuals with developmental disorders

Acquiring appropriate social skills is important throughout an individual’s lifelong development and change. As low social skills and display of inappropriate behaviors may negatively affect the quality of an individual’s life and the extent of his acceptance by society, This is especially true for individuals with developmental disorders.

This article highlights one of the problems facing individuals diagnosed with developmental disorders, which is inappropriate sexual behaviors.

Some research-based solutions are proposed that may in turn help shed light on successful behavioral analytic treatments that have been tried with individuals with developmental disorders.

In 2020, Oberon University conducted a study comparing the rate of sexual problems among normal individuals. And those who have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, The study found that the incidence of sexual problems is higher in individuals with developmental disorders. Between 6% and 28% of individuals with developmental disorders exhibit inappropriate sexual behaviors, even in public places. This percentage confirms that individuals with developmental disorders need more specific interventions to help them understand and use social skills in appropriate social contexts.

The concept of sexual behaviors is often difficult to discuss with parents of individuals with developmental disorders or when or how to explain this topic, as ignoring such a topic will create a large gap regarding the correct behavior in the situation. Therefore, providing correct sexual education will help bridge this gap.

It is the responsibility of teachers to intervene and emphasize the importance of parents’ participation in this intervention to teach individuals with developmental disorders appropriate behaviors. Parents and teachers can also use naturally occurring events to reinforce skills and create effective communication based on building trust between the individual and the parents. Thus creating opportunities to enhance the learning of appropriate social skills.

There are some reasons that contribute to the higher occurrence of these behaviors in individuals with developmental disorders: Of which:

  1. Side effects of some treatments: Most antidepressants, atypical and conventional antipsychotics, blood pressure medications, and some anti-anxiety medications can cause a variety of sexual side effects. It is known that individuals with developmental disorders need to use multiple types of treatments during different stages of their lives. Therefore, the incidence of sexual problems may increase depending on the use of certain types of medications.
  2. The presence of modern technologies and phones available without restrictions, which provide opportunities for them to view inappropriate content at an early age, may thus enhance the emergence of inappropriate sexual behaviors.
  3. Desire to explore but lack of awareness of how private one’s private parts are in social settings.
  4. The presence of sexual feelings and desires without knowing how to express them correctly, Or in the right place.

Helmas an (2006) points out that “individuals with developmental disorders have sexual desires similar to those possessed by normal individuals, But they do not have sufficient knowledge on how to direct or control it in the appropriate way, causing a lot of frustration and anxiety on the part of parents.”

There are some suggested methods to confront and limit the occurrence of sexual problems that appear in individuals with developmental disorders:

1- Social stories

Obron University conducted a study to discover the effectiveness of social stories in reducing the occurrence of sexual behaviors in individuals with developmental disorders.

The study questions were centered around the following:

  • Is it important for children to learn to keep their hands off their clothes in public?
  • Do teens with developmental disorders need social skills training if they are seen touching their genitals more than once in public?
  • If another student in your child’s class is exhibiting inappropriate sexual behavior, What is the appropriate behavior for him?

The study included two people diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder; Olivia, 11 years old And he is 13 years old. Participants were selected because of their history of inappropriate touching of sensitive areas in public. The social stories method was used with the selected sample with the aim of changing their inappropriate sexual behavior in public places and in various social situations.

The study concluded that using social stories to change behavior in individuals with developmental disorders may be beneficial. The results indicated a decrease in the behavior of the selected sample and the acquisition of social awareness of not touching sensitive areas in public places.

2- Meeting educational needs

Meeting the educational needs of children with developmental disorders through cooperation between parents and teachers in knowing how to deliver appropriate answers to satisfy the child’s curiosity about sexual topics and how to protect sensitive areas may limit the emergence of these behaviors during the self-exploration stage.

3- Education through modeling according to the Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) approach

Through the Applied Behavior Analysis approach, the child was taught the skills needed to be acquired by showing a video and providing visual strategies or analyzing the skills.

Finally, individuals with developmental disorders must acquire the social skills necessary to reduce the emergence of sexual behaviors. So, These skills must be maintained through continuity of social development provided by teachers and parents and continuous reinforcement of learned behaviors.

the reviewer