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Challenges to Treating Adolescents with Asperger's Syndrome Who are Sexually Abusive

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Clinicians as well as the general public have encountered an increasing amount of information available regarding Asperger's Syndrome (AS) and high functioning autism. While children with Asperger's may have normal verbal intelligence, they are, like other children along the Autistic Spectrum (ASD) and Pervasive Developmental (PDD) disorders, deeply delayed in their understanding of social information. So when they reach adolescence, with its rising social stress, they are doubly lost in negotiating their way through the social complexities of the teenage years. And there is no more confusing issue for young people than sexuality, both in forming their own sexual identity and forging relationships of closeness with appropriate sexual expression. For the clinician, the convergence of the neurobiological impairment of AS and the social confusion of adolescence provides unique challenges for untangling the relative contributions of each factor and for developing treatment interventions that are effective. This challenge is magnified when sexual behavior problems surface in the young person with Asperger's Syndrome. These individuals are faced with an uneven social playing field in which they are constantly trying to catch up with everyone else. A sexual behavior problem adds to their confusion and sense of social rejection. Their odd and unusual manner of engaging in the world can leave others frustrated, which can be interpreted even more as rejection.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Hillcrest Education Centers, Pittsfield, Massachusetts, USA

Publication date: October 1, 2004

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