Workshop looks at sexual health and autism spectrum disorder

Three experts will discuss the research and practical implications surrounding sexual health and safety and adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) at an upcoming half-day workshop.

The event will take place Thursday, Oct. 31, from 9am to noon, in the Behavioural Science Building, ASDKeele campus. The workshop is free, but as seating is limited, registration is needed. To register, contact Casey Fulford at or ext. 22987 by Oct. 26.

York University clinical developmental psychology PhD students Michelle Viecili and Stephanie Brown will present, “Sexual Knowledge and Experiences in ASD: Research Findings from a Self-Report Study”. Their paper will look at the results of recent research examining sexual knowledge and sexual experience in young adults with ASD in North America. They will also discuss their clinical experiences working with adults with ASD on issues of sexuality, and the tools and resources they use to teach sexual health.

Viecili specialized in the research and treatment of mental health problems in individuals with ASD, as well as the well-being of families. She is a mentor for the Asperger Mentorship Program at York University. Brown, who is in the clinical neuropsychology stream of study, conducts research examining the core deficits and strengths in children and adults with ASD, developmental disabilities and deafness. She has worked clinically with children and adults with a variety of neurodevelopmental disorders and typical development in multiple private and community settings. She is also the coordinator and mentor for the Asperger Mentorship Program.

Robyn Steward is a 27-year-old mentor and consultant with Asperger syndrome. She has personal and professional experience with autism having worked with a wide range of clients with ASD and has trained professionals with children and adults in the fields of social care, education and law enforcement.

Steward hopes her presentation, “Sex, Autism and Safey”, will help participants gain insight into how the difficulties faced by many on the spectrum affect sexual safety, as well as other areas of their life. She will provide strategies and ideas that will help people better understand themselves or those they support, and be better able to support them in moving forward.

Her first book, Independent Woman’s Handbook for Super Safe Living on the Autistic Spectrum (Jessica Kingsley Publishers), was published this month. It is a practical guide covering issues identified through research into autistic and non-autistic women and offers practical strategies and activities to aid understanding.

The talk is sponsored by the Chair in Autism Spectrum Disorders Treatment and Care Research at York University and Autism Ontario.