Education and Counseling for Individuals Affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders


Sexual Behaviors in Aspergers Children

"This is an embarrassing question, but what do you do about a child who plays with his penis in public?"

First of all, I'm impressed with any parent who attempts to address problematic issues -- no matter how touchy or embarrassing the topic may be. So, good for you that you were brave enough to ask this question. And you are not alone by the way; many parents with ASD children have had to work through this dilemma.

Children with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism are sexual beings just as everyone else is. However, because of their inability to control all of their impulses, they may display behaviors that are inappropriate in public. This can be particularly difficult to deal with -- and of course it is embarrassing for parents.

This is something you will need to be direct and proactive about. There are social aspects of sexuality that will need to be dealt with. You can use social stories to teach about sexuality as well as many other things.

It is important that your child understand good touch versus bad touch. They can be vulnerable in this area, and you want them to be prepared in order to reduce their risk.

In order to be proactive, you will need to think ahead, and decide what is appropriate to teach your child at each stage of development. When talking about sexuality, use real terms. Aspergers kids do not pick up on social cues, so they need concrete terms about what you are talking about.

Reinforce appropriate behavior, and when inappropriate behavior occurs (e.g., masturbating in public), parents need to redirect the child.

Plan ahead before going into the community. Let them know exactly what is expected of them while they are in the community (e.g., masturbating in public is inappropriate). If your child is young and doesn't seem to comprehend, give him something else to keep his hands busy.

Set aside some time with your child to talk about sexuality. If you only respond when an incident occurs, you may be sending the wrong message to your child. Find out what your child knows about sexuality, again using direct questions.

Find out if your child has concerns or fears about sexuality. Talk about what is "normal" sexual behavior, but also let him know what is inappropriate. Try to let your child know that it is okay to have sexual feelings, and it is OK to talk about them.

If you still have concerns, talk to your child's school. They may have some programs that can be helpful in teaching more about sexuality. Or you can seek the advice of a professional outside of the school.

The Aspergers Comprehensive Handbook


Anonymous said... I always stressed that it was something private, but if your child does it in public anyway, I'm not sure what to do. I could only stress to NOT punish for it. Maybe take small trips to "practice public" and reward the child for making it thru without touching himself.
Anonymous said... I gave my son another socially acceptable habit to replace it. A spin ring worked well and he would spin it on his finger for security instead of playing with himself. He used to do it all the time and now at 12 doesn't need it must of the time.
Anonymous said... If the child is verbal, discuss the legal perimeters and consequences....designate a place and a time that is appropriate. Ie..bedroom/bathroom. "In private" is the key lesson here, not to eliminate self stimulation. 
Anonymous said... My 9 yr old and 7 yr olds do this all the time. Mostly at home, but will quite happily sit in the lounge quietly playing with themselves. We do stop them and expl ain that they need to do that in the privacy of their bedroom, however it often takes quite sometime before the message gets through... we just carry on repeating it until it eventually gets through... still an ongoing battle. An aspie/ASD trait or just a boy thing? I dont know, but they do need to learn. All thing sexual do seem to fascinate my 9 yr old...
Anonymous said... When I see my son with his hands on his winker in public, no I didn't misspell, I say hands in the air. Then he knows to stop and isn't embarrassed. For him it's more a security issue. He feels safer when he holds it. I've noticed if he gets scared from a loud noise, his hands go straight down there.

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Anonymous said...

My son does it all the time, he even tries to show people

Anonymous said...

well,my son doesnt so much 'play with' but does have tendancy to 'hold himself' inappropriatly.i simply remind him[calmly + quietly] that we are in public + that's an activity for the privacy of his room.

Anonymous said...

my 9 year old had a sort of adjustment he would do. this would include his hand going down his pants. he told me it was like an itch that had to be scratched. he had "no control like the onset of a cough". I started with telling him to do it over the pants if he must do it at all. it took a long time with MANY reminders but I think he now understands that it IS inappropriate. I do catch him sneaking an adjustment in when he believes no one can see him.

Anonymous said...

Doctor says to remind them that those are their "privates" and that they should only touch them in PRIVATE. It helped alot!

Anonymous said...

What do you do with an Aspergers teenage boy that has become obsessed with it?

Joann Trozzo said...

Yes my soon has this issue also, it started in kindergarten. Very shocking to me to say the least. The advice here is great. Private only and it seems to happen more when they are bored.

joy clark said...

my stepson has issues with touching others.I have sought help from teacher,dr,and child and family services.What do I do now?

shanti said...

My 9 year old son is an Aspie and he says he does it without knowing.I got him a Fidget toy.Anything stimulating that fits in his pocket.His is a squishy little bird with little feeler things on it.Got it at the Dollar Store.You have to redirect their train of thought and routine.Being that Aspies are extremely compulsive and repetitive in certain mannerisms they like a switch in self soothing.

anonymous said...

OH my God, my son is an ADHD child, he's only 6years now . his is a bit different he seem pleased with any open flesh around him. especially a fat woman's arm , thigh or open breast from a top. he would touch softly put his cheek around the area press with his elbow and finally he puts his genital and starts rubbing against say the thighs, and he is so happy about it.
its so embarrassing, and neither does he talk nor does he seem to understand. I attempt to beat him or scare him and he will repeat this within a few minutes.

I used to think maybe he saw this on the TV OR maybe saw us in that moment which I don't think he did, but this proves it all wrong because his younger brother who just turned two and is also an ADHD CHILD. Is showing same signs, whenever u give him a hug he will press u with his genitals more. is this biological do they have extra sex hormones or what.
help me please

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