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Autism Spectrum Disorder and Teenage Sexual Development - Where Can A Parent Turn With Concern?

By Stephen C. Schultz

I recently sat in a meeting with Oxbow Academy. It was actually a very productive meeting. Much of the discussion was around the treatment of students who struggle with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). While Oxbow Academy specializes in working with students who have some sexual development concerns, over the years it became apparent that there is a sub set of teens that need special attention and a refined therapeutic approach.

There are many therapeutic aspects to Oxbow Academy, but this post will focus mainly on the treatment of students with ASD. Nearly 50% of the students we work with suffer from ASD, NLD, ADHD or demonstrate co-morbid issues of some kind. Many are also navigating very sensitive adoption issues including reactive attachment disorder (RAD).

In our work with teens that have been diagnosed with ASD, we use a variety of treatment methods known to be effective, and individualize our approach based on the client’s needs.  Our therapeutic efforts are experiential in nature and relationship based. Some of the approaches we employ include: 

  • Relationship-based therapies
  • Behavior Therapy
  • Role Playing (Flag Board)
  • Psycho-education:  identifying emotions, self-awareness, awareness of others, self-management
  • Visual schedules/charts (Flag Board)
  • Visual representation of abstract concepts (Sand Tray) (Equine Therapy)
  • Bibliotherapy (Disclosure)
  • Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) (modified for each client’s needs)
  • Relaxation training and meditation
  • Social Stories (Carol Gray, 1998) (Mission Statement)
  • Emotional Toolbox (Tony Attwood, 2007)
  • Visual Support (Carol Gray, 1994) (Vision Board)

These issues of ASD, complicated with sexual behavioral concerns, require a level of expertise that is sensitive to the student’s therapeutic needs as well as the family emotions of confusion, misunderstanding and often time’s embarrassment.  

Take a look and explore some of the links on this page for a better understanding of this clinically complicated issue that has lifelong effects on the family.

Here is a link to the Oxbow Academy website that specifically addresses the issues around developmental concerns. (


Tammy said…
Thanks for the info. My son is 13 and my husband and I will be dealing with this soon.
Thank you for your comment Tammy. I do hope you find this information helpful.

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