top of page

Autism and Sexual Assault

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder? (ASD)

  • a genetic developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges

    • 1 in every 54 children in United states had autism in 2016

  • Can be detected and diagnosed at around 2-3 years, diagnosing earlier very hard due to inability to detect in blood tests, so professionals must wait until they can interact and observe the child’s behavior

  • Early signs of autism

    • not look at objects when another person points at them

    • have trouble relating to others or not have an interest in other people at all

    • appear to be unaware when people talk to them, but respond to other sounds

    • be very interested in people, but not know how to talk, play, or relate to them

    • have trouble expressing their needs using typical words or motions

      • symptoms prominent in some more than others, so some autistic people need lots of assistance throughout life and some do not

  • No cure, but the earlier you go for treatment like therapy, the better outcomes for the individual in the future

What is ASD sources:

What is Sexual Assault?

  • sexual contact or behavior that occurs without explicit consent of the victim. Some forms of sexual assault include:

    • Attempted rape

    • Fondling or unwanted sexual touching

    • Forcing a victim to perform sexual acts, such as oral sex or penetrating the perpetrator’s body

    • Penetration of the victim’s body, also known as rape

      • Not all sexual assault is rape, rape is just a form of sexual assault. Can be emotional coercion, psychological force, or manipulation to coerce a victim into non-consensual sex.

      • Some perpetrators will use threats to force a victim to comply, such as threatening to hurt the victim or their family or other intimidation tactic

  • Most sexual assault cases, 8 out of 10, commited by someone the victim knows

    • This sort of SA is called acquaintance rape or “date rape”

What is SA Resources:

Sexual Assault Against Autistic people

  • People with intellectual disabilities are sexually assaulted at a rate seven times higher than those without disabilities.

    • Predators target people with intellectual disabilities because they know they are easily manipulated and will have difficulty testifying later. These crimes go mostly unrecognized, unprosecuted and unpunished. And the abuser is free to abuse again.

    • Intellectually disabled people have a harder time saying no or knowing what's right or wrong, so predators take advantage of this

  • Talking about sexuality and assault may be an uncomfortable topic for many parents to teach their children, especially children with autism. Some parents may feel that it is less important to teach children with autism about sexuality with the assumption that it is unlikely to occur to them when statistics clearly show that is sadly the opposite.

    • Parents educating autistic children about sexuality is very important for people with autism because they are less likely to learn about it from their peers, movies, or other areas due to their inability to perceive information as easily.

    • People with autism must know the difference between appropriate and inappropriate behavior, and to distinguish between the various types of healthy relationships.

  • The sexual assault these autistic people may face can increasse the negative psychological impacts they already live with.


How to Combat Sexual Assault for the mentally disabled

  • First, societal views toward SA victims, no matter who the victim is, must change for the better and advocate for every SA victim, including victims with autism or other intellectual disabilities.

    • Do not be afraid to speak up about this topic around family, friends, anyone

    • Contact Human Services, Social Services, child protective agencies etc if you suspect anyone going through sexual abuse

      • If a person is in immediate danger, call the police

  • psychotherapy or therapeutic counseling for people with intellectual disabilities who have experienced SA

  • Resources for SA victims:

    • To speak with someone who is trained to help, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673) to be connected with your local sexual assault service provider.

    • You can chat online anonymously with a support specialist trained by RAINN at

    • If you are Deaf, you can access help via video phone 1.855.812.1001 (Monday to Friday 9 a.m.—5 p.m. PST).

    • CAVANET: This organization that addresses violence against women, human rights, genocide, and crime victims with disabilities and

    • National Disability Rights Network: NDRN members investigate reports of abuse and neglect, and seek systemic change to prevent further incidents; advocate for basic rights; and ensure accountability in health care, education, employment, housing, transportation, and within the juvenile and criminal justice systems for individuals with disabilities.

  • More resources at: National Resources for Sexual Assault Survivors and their Loved Ones

Written and Researched by LAKSHMI POTTURU


146 views0 comments


bottom of page