Skip to main content

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.

Popular posts from this blog

Perfectly Wicked - A new take on an old fairy tale!

Guest Blogger Amanda Schultz Age 15 There she was…hair as black as night, lips as red as blood, skin as white as snow. Standing by the window, washing dishes, whistling while she worked. Snow White. I shudder with disgust every time I hear her name. What kind of a name is that anyway? “Snow White”. Gahhh, it’s a name that practically begs to be made fun of. Yet, there she goes, frolicking around like she owns the Enchanted Forest. No. I’m the Queen. I’m in charge. My magic mirror was mistaken. I’m the Fairest of them all, not that sorry excuse for a princess. One bite from my poison apple and that air-head will be so ugly not even her mother could love her. And I will be the Fairest once again! I suppose that I should rewind a little bit. It wasn’t always a competition between Snow White and me. In fact, back in the day, we had a nice little system going on. I would rule the kingdom and practice my magic, while Snow did the dishes and tended the garden. She stayed out of my w

Lessons I learned from a childhood experience with bullying

By Stephen C. Schultz The dew around the window was starting to bead up. In a classic case of chaos theory, the little beads of water gave way to gravity and randomly bounced and bumped their way to the window sill like a steal marble in a pinball game. There was a small pool of water in the cracked and peeling beige paint. I sat facing the window, staring at the small engraved stone nestled in the flower beds. There weren’t many flowers at this time of year. Mostly rhododendrons and Oregon grapes reaching skyward from the damp bark mulch that covered the planter area.   The month of January in Eugene Oregon was filled with days and days of mist and fog.   In fact, pretty much from October through June was filled with fog, rain, mist, showers, freezing rain and occasionally snow. The local weathermen didn’t bother with predictions about the chance of precipitation; they took pride in developing new adjectives to describe the type of precipitation and how much you can expect.

An Open Letter to Parents Researching RedCliff Ascent

By Stephen C. Schultz "We will be known forever by the tracks we leave." Having been raised in Oregon, I spent the majority of my childhood and teenage year’s steelhead fishing the coastal waters, climbing the Middle Sister in the Cascade Mountain Range, drifting the McKenzie River and hiking the Pacific Crest Trail.  I have mentioned to friends, family and colleagues on many occasions;   “From a therapeutic standpoint, there is no better place to have a student’s issues manifested quickly than in a wilderness setting.” The question then becomes, “Why do therapeutic issues rise to the surface in an Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare program like RedCliff Ascent ?” Throughout the years of teenage development, most teens spend a lot of time with friends. These friends think the same, dress the same, act the same, listen to the same music and sometimes get into the same types of trouble. Some teens also develop patterns of communication and manipulation