Ready or not: Sexuality and autism


Taylor Stinson

Chaturi Edrisinha informs parents and faculty about the importance of teaching children with autism about sexuality.

Katerina Mihailidis, Intern Reporter

Parents and caregivers learned how to help individuals on the autism spectrum deal with sexuality at a lecture given by Chaturi Edrisinha, associate professor of Human Development and Child Studies at Oakland University.

She also discussed the rights regarding sexuality of those on the spectrum. Her lecture focused on individuals from the ages of 15-26.

The lecture was held Thursday, March 16 from 6-8 p.m. in Lake Superior Room A of the Oakland Center.

The lecture was free of cost and not intended for individuals with autism spectrum disorder, but rather for their parents and caregivers.

Edrisinha’s presentation included personal stories of cases in which she helped individuals with ASD discover and accept their sexuality.

“Everyone has a right to their sexuality, despite their disability,” she said.

Edrisinha is the director of research for the OU’s Center for Autism (OUCARES). She has been passionate about spreading awareness and educating people about sexuality and ASD for the past 18 years, all the while working with individuals who have ASD.

“It’s such a unique population, with so much humanity and such a unique perspective to life,” she said.

The audience, most of which were parents of ASD individuals, shared their experiences and concerns.

In her lecture, Edrisinha addressed many issues, including embedding sexuality education into school curriculum, and educating children with ASD about consent, hygiene, relationships and the physical changes that will occur as they mature.

She also gave examples that addressed inappropriate sexual behavior. She advised her audience to approach these issues in a nonpunitive manner when teaching children right from wrong when it comes to their sexuality.

Edrisinha spoke about how the law handles individuals with ASD when they display inappropriate sexual behavior in public. She said that the “judicial system is not kind” and that “they don’t care if [an individual has] ASD.”

Edrisinha encouraged her audience to attend “Light It Up Blue for World Autism Awareness Day.” OUCARES will host a free family event for those on the autism spectrum on the second floor of the Engineering Center Atrium. Together, dressed in blue, attendees will walk to Elliott Tower, which will be bathed in blue light, according to the Human Development and Child Studies website.

The event will take place from 6:15-7:45 p.m. on April 2 and is free for everyone upon registration. According to the website, it will include games, refreshments, guest speakers, information tables and a blue-balloon ceremony.

Register for the event until March 22 at [email protected].