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Exploring the Experience of Romantic Relationships and Sexuality Education in Neurodivergent and Neurotypical Young Individuals

Smusz, M, Birkbeck, C, Bidgood, A and Allely, C Exploring the Experience of Romantic Relationships and Sexuality Education in Neurodivergent and Neurotypical Young Individuals. Sexuality and Disability: a journal devoted to the psychological and medical aspects of sexuality in rehabilitation and community settings. ISSN 0146-1044 (Accepted)

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Purpose – The literature indicates that sexuality education provided in schools/colleges in the United Kingdom (UK) may not be appropriate for people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). There appears to be a lack of understanding of the subject regarding young people with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and a dual diagnosis (ASD co-occurring with ADHD). Research also suggests that compared to neurotypical (NT) peers, young people with ASD tend to receive less support on sexuality from their parents, who often feel that they lack the appropriate skills to help their children with some sex-related issues. Some young people with ASD and ADHD also report lacking an understanding of the social nuances of dating and intimacy, which is crucial for navigating romantic relationships. Design/methodology/approach – This study explored sexuality education and romantic relationships in young people based on a semi-structured interview approach to the topic. Thematic Analysis (TA) was employed to analyze the data. Findings –Six themes were developed from the participants’ narratives: Societal ideology about sexuality; Substandard school-based sexuality education; The role of adults in sexuality education; Pornography, as a very powerful alternative means of sexuality education; Young people and romance - a complicated world to navigate; Experience of abuse in the young neurodivergent population is a serious matter. Findings revealed that many young people (ND and NT) received basic sex education in their schools/colleges and homes and encountered challenges navigating romantic relationships. ND young people reported experiencing greater challenges related to their understanding of and building romantic relationships than their NT peers. Originality/value – To the researchers’ knowledge, this is the first exploration of romantic relationships and sexuality education in NT young people as well as three groups of ND young people (with ASD, ADHD, and ASD co-occurring with ADHD). Keywords Autism spectrum disorder, Autistic, Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, ASD co-occurring with ADHD, Romantic relationships, Sexuality education, Young People, The United Kingdom.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Autism spectrum disorder; Autistic; Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder; ASD co-occurring with ADHD; Romantic relationships; Sexuality education; Young people; The United Kingdom; 1106 Human Movement and Sports Sciences; 1117 Public Health and Health Services; 1608 Sociology; Rehabilitation
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
Divisions: Psychology (from Sep 2019)
Publisher: Springer
SWORD Depositor: A Symplectic
Date Deposited: 03 May 2024 08:54
Last Modified: 03 May 2024 08:54
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/23165
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