Intimacy and Romance Across the Autism Spectrum: Unpacking the “Not Interested in Sex” Myth

  • Matthew BennettEmail author
  • Amanda A. Webster
  • Emma Goodall
  • Susannah Rowland


Prior to the 1970s, it was a common misconception that autistic individuals were neither interested in, nor capable of, engaging in romantic and sexual relationships. It was thought that the core social difficulties frequently experienced by autistic adults had a positive correlation with asexuality. It is likely that some of these attitudes and assumptions came about because of a view of autistic individuals as childlike or socially immature. This chapter will explore the myth that autistic individuals are asexual, including related stereotypes regarding sexual and relationship behaviours. The current literature on and relationship preferences, engagement, and behaviours of autistic adolescents and adults will be reviewed, and the impact of current stereotypes on the sexual rights and knowledge of autistic individuals will be examined. Finally, an argument will be made for recognition of autistic sexuality as a difference rather than a deficit in which autistic adolescents and adults are seen as individuals with a range of preferences and needs who, if provided with information and support they require, will be able to connect with others in mutually beneficial relationships.


Asexuality Autistic sexuality Intimacy Relationships Sex education Sexual differences Sexual stereotypes 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Matthew Bennett
    • 1
    Email author
  • Amanda A. Webster
    • 2
  • Emma Goodall
    • 3
  • Susannah Rowland
    • 4
  1. 1.University of WollongongWollongongAustralia
  2. 2.University of WollongongWollongongAustralia
  3. 3.University of WollongongWollongongAustralia
  4. 4.University of WollongongWollongongAustralia

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