A qualitative study of mothers’ experiences of supporting the sexual development of their sons with autism and an accompanying learning disability

Pryde, Rebecca Louise (2017) A qualitative study of mothers’ experiences of supporting the sexual development of their sons with autism and an accompanying learning disability. D Clin Psy thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Printed Thesis Information: https://eleanor.lib.gla.ac.uk/record=b3320662


The sexuality and sexual development of individuals with autism-spectrum disorder (ASD) and an accompanying learning disability is a neglected area, despite the fact that this group have the same sexual desires as their typically developing peers. Due to the socially marginalised position these individuals are often placed in, parents play a key role in supporting them with their developing sexuality. It is therefore important to understand parents’ experiences and perspectives about their offspring’s socio-sexual needs. Five mothers of sons with ASD and a moderate to severe learning disability aged 16 to 24 were recruited from voluntary organisations and interviewed. Interviews were audio recorded then transcribed and analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) to draw out key themes from their narratives. These narratives were fraught with tensions; mothers’ acknowledged their sons’ sexuality as an important part of their developing identity, but their sons’ sexuality brought many challenges. They wanted to provide their sons with appropriate education, but were concerned that by doing so, they could increase problematic sexual behaviours, which could result in serious negative consequences. The mothers also expressed their concerns about who would love their sons when they grew up. There was an overarching sense that these mothers were desperate for support and information to help improve their confidence in supporting their sons’ socio-sexual needs. This study highlights the need for sensitive and person-centred support to both young people with ASD and an accompanying learning disability and their families in relation to their sexuality and sexual development. It also highlights that services need to consider how to meet this group’s need for physical intimacy and affection when their family members are no longer able to do so.

Item Type: Thesis (D Clin Psy)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Autism, ASD, learning disability, intellectual disability, sex, sexuality, sexual development, mothers, IPA, interpretative phenomenological analysis, qualitative.
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Colleges/Schools: College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > Mental Health and Wellbeing
Supervisor's Name: Jahoda, Professor Andrew
Date of Award: 2017
Depositing User: Ms Rebecca L Pryde
Unique ID: glathesis:2017-8368
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 23 Jul 2018 10:07
Last Modified: 11 Sep 2018 07:22
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/8368

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