Sexuality in Neurodivergent Individuals; Part 2 of the two-part series

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Part 2 of a two-part series on sexuality in autistic individuals and individuals with ADHD; special focus on challenges in research.

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Sexuality, Mental Health, Gender and Sex Education in Autistic People and Individuals with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder – Part 2 of a two-part series

This is Part 2 of a free two-part series on sexuality in autistic individuals and individuals with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and also looking at the challenges and barriers to conducting research in this area.

Across the two-part series, six key academics in the field, from across the world, have been invited to take part in this two-part series on sexuality in autistic individuals and individuals with ADHD with a panel debate on the challenges encountered when carrying out research in this field and what some of the barriers are to overcoming these.

Part 1 of the series will take place online on the 1st of September 2021 between 17:00 and 20:00 (BST).

Part 2 of the series (detailed below) will take place online on the 8th of September 2021 between 8:00 and 11:00 (BST).

This two-part series will be of interest to autistic people and people with ADHD, their families, researchers, educational professionals, health professionals etc.

The tickets for both part 1 and 2 are free. If you are interested in participating in both parts of the series, then please book tickets separately. For details on part 1 go to:

Sexuality and romantic relationships are essential parts of life for many people. A relatively modest amount of research has been conducted on sexuality and romantic relationship experiences, as well as sex education in autistic individuals; and there appears to be even less understanding on the subject with regards to individuals with ADHD and ASD co-occurring with ADHD. The existing research, however, indicates that many young autistic people and young people with ADHD encounter challenges with creating and maintaining their romantic relationships, and the current sex education provided in schools and colleges for all youth is not always appropriate for all neurodivergent young people. Research also highlights that, compared to their neurotypical peers, young people with neurodevelopmental conditions tend to receive much less support on sexual topics from their parents, who often feel that they lack appropriate skills to help their children with some sex-related issues. Literature also indicates that some neurodivergent young people lack a full understanding and appreciation of the social nuances of dating and intimacy, which is crucial for developing and maintaining healthy romantic relationships.

8th September: 08:00-11:00 (BST)

08:00 – 08: 20 (BST) - Chair and Speaker 1: Magdalena Smusz (United Kingdom) (introduction to the series and presentation)

Romantic Relationships and Sex Education in Young Individuals with ASD, ADHD and ASD co-occurring with ADHD

Magdalena Smusz is a PhD researcher at the University of Salford. Her PhD project focuses on romantic relationships and sex education in young people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and ASD co-occurring with ADHD.

08:20-08:50(BST)- Speaker 2: Dr Mark Stokes (Australia) (presentation)

Mental Health and the Intersection of Gender, Sexuality and Autism

Dr Mark Stokes is an Associate Professor in the School of Psychology at Deakin University, Australia. In 2002 Mark was appointed to Deakin University where he established a research group - the Healthy Autistic Life Lab (HALL). HALL collaborates with many researchers globally and covers research programs into autism addressing sexuality; relationship development; the female profile of autism; mirror neurons in autism; and the transition to adulthood in autism. HALL seeks to understand how to support autistic adolescents and adults through the major transitions to adulthood, such as finding employment, finding a life partner, developing intimacy, to assist people to obtain a life that supports outcomes of mental health and positive well-being. Mark actively supports research into autism through his role as former President of the Australasian Society for Autism Research and as National Lead for Australia to INSAR.

08:50-09:20(BST)-Speaker 3: Tanja Stankova-Papikj (Macedonia) (presentation)

Stories for Sexual Education for Persons with ASD

Tanja Stankova-Papikj works as a special needs teacher in a regular primary school in Skopje, Macedonia. She finished her master studies at the University of Oslo and University “St. Cyril and Methodius” Skopje in 2018. Her MSc research topic focused on sexuality education for persons with ASD using the technique Social Stories. In the past ten years, she has been conducting group and individual sexuality education sessions for persons with intellectual disability and persons with ASD throughout the country. As a member of MSSA (Macedonian Scientific Society for Autism), she provides training to parents, caregivers and professionals working with persons with ASD regarding sexual development and sexual education for persons with ASD. At the moment as the expert of the UNFPA team in Macedonia is developing a digital platform that will allow persons with ASD to access around 30 stories for comprehensive sexuality education and therefore provide the persons with accurate and age-appropriate information.

09:20-09:50(BST)- Speaker 4: Dr Jeroen Dewinter (The Netherlands) (presentation)

Sexual Development, Sexual and Gender Diversity in Autistic Adolescents and Adults

Dr Jeroen Dewinter is a clinical psychologist at an outpatient mental health service for emerging adults (GGzE, the Netherlands), as well as a senior researcher at Tranzo, Centre for Care and Wellbeing at the Tilburg School of Social and Behavioral Sciences of Tilburg University, the Netherlands. His current work relates to research on sexual diversity and wellbeing in autistic adolescents and adults and more general on wellbeing in autistic adolescents and adults. In line with the aims of Tranzo, Jeroen values close collaboration with autistic adolescents and adults, and the translation of research findings to clinical practice and daily life. Dr Dewinter co-initiated the INSAR SIG on autism, gender, sexuality and relationships in close collaboration with international autism advocates and researchers, and the NVVS SIG on autism and sexuality.

09:50 – 10:00 (BST) – Short break

10:00- 10:50 (BTS)- Panel debate: Sexuality, Mental Health, Gender and Sex Education in Autistic People and Individuals with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Challenges in Research + Q&A

10:50-11:00 (BTS)- Concluding remarks: Magdalena Smusz

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Organiser Magdalena Smusz (The University of Salford)

Organiser of Sexuality in Neurodivergent Individuals; Part 2 of the two-part series

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