Autism, sex and relationships

This project is currently closed and seeking funding.

What we did

We worked with Scottish Autism to support families affected by autism around the areas of growing up, sex and relationships.

We worked directly with young people, providing practical strategies for parents and training frontline professionals.

Why this work is needed

Parents and foster carers often find it difficult to talk about and respond to the sexual development of their children. When a child is on the autistic spectrum then relationships can be complex and it can be even harder to address the reality of sexual relationships developing. Parents tell us that it’s a major concern.

Frontline staff often struggle to deal with sex and relationships education (SRE) due to anxiety, embarrassment or lack of confidence and knowledge.

Who the project helped

We supported families and professionals across Scotland. We worked with:

  • young people with autism, aged eight to 25
  • their parents and foster carers
  • frontline staff working with families affected by autism.

How we worked

Sessions for young people We worked directly with young people to help them understand growing up. We delivered age-appropriate SRE sessions on subjects such as body parts, private and public spaces, and different kinds of relationships.

Support for parents We delivered group sessions for parents and carers of young people with autism. The sessions gave parents the chance to share their experiences, understand the issues their children face and learn practical strategies to support them through puberty and beyond.

We encouraged parents to complete the FPA Speakeasy course, designed to help them gain the confidence and knowledge to talk with their children about sex, relationships and growing up.

Training for professionals We offered training for frontline staff so that they became more confident and knowledgeable discussing sex and relationships and better equipped to offer support. We also encouraged them to take on the role of mentor and share their skills and knowledge with other staff in their organisation.

How we were funded

This project was funded by Scottish government until March 2015 and was a partnership between FPA and Scottish Autism.

Who to contact

For more information about this project, or to discuss working with FPA on similar projects please email autism@fpa.org.uk.