April is a month that is often associated with autism. The United Nations recognizes World Autism Awareness Day and the Autism Society champions Autism Acceptance Month to promote a world where everyone feels included. Some groups declare April as Autism Awareness Month but there was a call more than a decade ago from the autistic community to use the term acceptance. Last month ABAI also advanced an important issue of acceptance with its Statement on Conversion Therapy and Practices.
This statement is of particular importance for autistic individuals given the emerging research, that autistic individuals are over-represented in sexual minorities and in transgender, gender-fluid, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming populations. Here are just a few of the publications that demonstrate this disproportionality:
Sexuality in a Community Based Sample of Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Sexuality and Gender Role in Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Case-Control Study
Increased Gender Variance in Autism Spectrum Disorders and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and Romantic Relationships in Adolescents and Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Broad Autism Pheontypic Traits and the Relationship to Sexual Orientation and Sexual Behavior
For those of us working in a professional capacity with the autistic community educating ourselves about gender identity and sexual minorities is an important area of professional development. This learning is particularly important given our field’s history of promoting conversion therapy. The Human Rights Campaign, GLSEN, and the Trevor Project all have resources to support our learning.
“….when you know better, you do better,” Maya Angelou.
Our field now knows better, and we simply must do better.