INTERSECTION OF AUTISM WITH GENDER AND SEXUAL ORIENTATION
Like autism, gender and sexuality exist on a spectrum. And it’s fairly common for these two spectrums to intersect. Research shows that "gender identity and sexuality are more varied among Autistic people". In fact, "people with autism are 2 to 3 times more likely to be a part of the LGBTQIA+ community". This may be the case because Autistic individuals "tend to be less influenced by" or internalize constructs of gender in the same way as neurotypical or Allistic people do.
Loved ones and professionals might question whether a person with autism can fully understand topics such as sexuality and gender identity or that identifying as LGBTQIA+ will further "other" them. However, a diagnosis with autism doesn’t mean someone is unable to explore, question, and determine their identity.
In reality, stifling one’s full identity can be harmful. "Depression occurs at higher rates for LGBTQIA+ individuals", and a recent study, titled Quantitative Analysis of Mental Health Among Sexual and Gender Minority Groups in ASD, determined that "as membership to a minority group became more restrictive, mental health symptoms worsened". These symptoms are significantly decreased when the individual feels safe, accepted, and validated.
Gender-expansive sexual health education programs are just as important for young Autistic adults as it is for everyone else, as are inclusive and affirming spaces and language, including pronouns.