I need help in teaching my daughter appropriate sexual behavior. She will be 16 in June, has Asperger’s, and acts out sexually. She feels this is what she is “supposed” to do when she likes a boy, and I just can’t get her to feel moral values.
A 16-year-old girl with Asperger’s Syndrome will have a fully developed female body, but it is unlikely that she will have a full understanding of adolescent sexuality. Depending on her exposure to popular media, she may have formulated an impression of sexuality from the licentious “celebrities” that have become well-known for their use of drugs and alcohol and their fickle, promiscuous sexual behaviour. Your daughter could very well believe that behaviours such as candid flirtation, physical sexual cues, sexual language, and sexual activity are what she, as you say, “is supposed to do when she likes a boy.” The media sends this message loud and clear!
Your daughter needs the advice of a professional counselor now as she is exhibiting behaviour that could lead to very severe consequences.
In addition to the negative effects of the media, teenagers with Asperger’s Syndrome do not acquire “street smarts” when it comes to dating or sex. As a result, they are naïve and misinformed about sex.
Your daughter is an adolescent and she wants to develop an identity separate from yours. One aspect of this development is challenging your thoughts and beliefs. When this happens, many parents feel that they have to be friends with their children in order to keep calm in the home. In doing so, they abdicate their parental responsibility, and children suffer in the process. Your daughter still needs to have clearly defined rules while she is living in your home. You know the possible negative consequences of overtly sexual behavior, she does not. Impose specific rules on her; she shouldn’t be alone with boys or be dating, considering the situation.
She may not understand why you are imposing rules; you need to stress that they are for her benefit, now and in the future, and explain why in very specific terms (i.e.; to protect her from sexual diseases, HIV/AIDS, and pregnancy). She needs to understand not just what the consequences of sexual activity are, but what will happen if she gets a venereal disease, HIV/AIDS, or gets pregnant. This will be far more meaningful to her than vague advice about “morality.”
It is imperative that you teach your daughter about sex. She needs specific details about responsible sexual behavior and the consequences of reckless intimacy. Start with basic sex education and move on from there. Freely expressing her sexual feelings because she thinks it is the only way to be accepted and loved must be countered with facts about sexual consequences and information on more appropriate ways to be accepted by boys.
For further information on this subject, consider reading the book http://Asperger’s and Sexuality: Puberty and Beyond by Jerry and Mary Newport. This book was written by two adults who have been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. They are a married couple, and their book provides information about young adults with Asperger’s and the issue of sexuality. The topics in this book include birth control, dating, disease prevention, sexuality, and taking personal responsibility for sexually related behaviour.
In addition to the above book, go online and read “Sexuality and Autism.” It is posted at http://autism.about.com/od/transitioncollegejobs/f/sexed.htm