The Associação Portuguesa Voz do Autista has been working on the importance of research and knowledge about sexuality and relationships in autistic people. Despite the fact that more and more studies and first-person accounts indicate a potentially active sex life and a willingness to get involved in relationships, similar to what is seen in non-autistic people, there are still few studies on the specific experiences and needs of autistic people in relation to this topic, which, in the Portuguese context, is practically non-existent. We are against a deficit discourse on sexuality in autism, which is often medicalised because of the difference in needs, by highlighting the systemic and institutional barriers to information and education on autistic sexuality. These barriers include discrimination and stigma, the infantilisation of autistic people and the denial of their right to privacy and intimacy, among others, which can lead to a lack of access to support in the area of sexuality and relationships.
It is important to know and understand the needs related to sexuality and relationships, in their own voice, in order to ensure that autistic people can have a full and healthy sexual and emotional life, and it is important to prevent and support against violence, taking into account the specific needs mentioned, as well as developing support and services that take these points into account.
The following report was the result of a community-led study carried out with the aim of exploring the needs in the area of sexuality and violence prevention in autistic people, and showing the need for more studies in the area.

Book ''Exploring Autistic Sexualities, Relationality, and Genders: Living Under a Double Rainbow' with a chapter from Sara Rocha and Mayne Benedetto from APVA

The book 'Exploring Autistic Sexualities, Relationality and Gender: Living Under a Double Rainbow' by Hanna Bertilsdotter, features a chapter written by Sara Rocha, President of APVA and Mayne Benedetto, Chair of APVA's Advisory Board - chapter 'The Power of Community-Generated Data for an Epistemic Shift in Autistic Sexuality: From Stigmatised to Neuroaffirming Sex. ' In this chapter, Sara Rocha and Mayne Benedetto set out to show how powerful data generated by the non-academic autistic community can serve to break down stigma and create knowledge about the needs and priorities of autistic people in sexuality, relationships and gender. Description: This edited collection of contributions explores non-normative genders, sexualities and relationality among Autistic people. Written within an explicitly neuro-affirmative frame, the collection celebrates the diversity and richness of Autistic identity, sexuality, gender, and relationships, exploring areas such as consent, embodiment, ink, kink, sex education, and therapeutic work. All editors and contributors are neurodivergent and members of the communities that the book focuses on providing an authentic and unique exploration of gender, sexuality and relationality in Autistic people by Autistic/other neurodivergent authors. The book is primarily intended for postgraduate students and academics across disciplines including sociology, social work, psychology, disability studies, inclusive and special education, and sexual education. Mental health professionals and educators will also find it a useful resource to support their Autistic clients as well as developing their own understanding about how to support Autistic people in a neurodiversity affirming, kink-affirming, LGBTQ+ and gender variant way.

Sexuality and autistic people

As part of the week to fight poverty and social exclusion, and in a joint initiative, the Family Planning Association, APVA and the European Anti-Poverty Network have developed a video that lifts the veil on some of the specificities of sexuality in autistic people (in Portuguese). Sexuality is a central dimension in the lives of all of us: we urgently need to know more about it and understand it better, guaranteeing healthy and positive experiences for everyone.

Reproductive rights - forced sterilisation in Portugal

APVA has developed information campaigns to criminalise forced sterilisation in Portugal. To find out more about this issue, visit the page by clicking on the button below.

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