The Autism Spectrum, Sexuality and the Law
Release Date:01 Aug 2014

The Autism Spectrum, Sexuality and the Law

What every parent and professional needs to know

Jessica Kingsley Publishers

Based on Nick Dubin's own experience, and drawing on the extensive knowledge of Dr Tony Attwood and Dr Isabelle Hénault, this important book addresses the issues surrounding the autism spectrum, sexuality and the law.

The complex world of sex and appropriate sexual behaviour can be extremely challenging for people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and, without guidance, many find themselves in vulnerable situations. This book examines how the ASD profile typically affects sexuality and how sexual development differs between the general population and those with ASD. It explains the legalities of sexual behaviour, how laws differ from country to country, and the possibility for adjustment of existing laws as they are applied to the ASD population. With advice on how to help people with autism spectrum disorder gain a better understanding of sexuality and a comprehensive list of resources, the book highlights the need for a more informed societal approach to the psychosexual development of people with ASD.

A ground-breaking and honest account, this book will be an invaluable addition to the shelves of parents of children with ASD, mental health and legal professionals, teachers, carers and other professionals working with individuals on the spectrum.

The story of Nick Dubin is sadly becoming a more common occurrence. His experience as an individual with high functioning autism is one of being misunderstood and unfortunately undiagnosed until the age of 27. This book describes the compelling story of a young man caught up in a nightmare where his symptoms of autism and an uninformed criminal justice system collide. Attwood, Henault, Mr. Dubin and his parents offer a glimpse of a possible reality that even though it is not commonly understood, many autistic teens and young adults have had to experience. Understanding societal rules for meeting others, for the development of interpersonal relationships, and sexuality in general are complex topics for any teen and young adult; it is especially complex for those on the autism spectrum. Proactive education is not only important, it is essential for those on the autism spectrum for without clear guidelines of what is right or wrong, what is allowed and what is illegal, and how to meet and express one's sexual feelings and needs, there will inevitably be more and more people on the autism spectrum finding themselves in the criminal justice system. This book is a brilliant first step or wake up call for individuals on the autism spectrum as well as their families. – Lawrence R. Sutton, Ph.D., former Psychologist/Manager, Dept. of Public Welfare, Bureau of Autism, Western Region, State of Pennsylvania
“I was deeply moved by Nick Dubin's candid account of his frightening experience in the criminal justice system. This compelling and informative book shows how prosecutors can overreach in their pursuit of a criminal conviction with devastating consequences to individuals on the autism spectrum and their families. Hopefully, this seminal work will shed some light on a long neglected subject and jumpstart a discussion in the legal system that includes compassion and understanding.” – Bradley Schram, former prosecutor and founding shareholder with the law firm, Hertz Schram PC, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan
As the father of a 21-year-old son with autism and as a forensic psychologist who has been diagnosing sex offenders for 40 years, I have an opinion on this subject. It is critical that high functioning persons with autism read this book; and even more critical for the parents or guardians of persons with autism to read this book. – Michael C. Teague, Ph.D., former Raleigh Police Department Psychologist and former Chief of the Violent Crimes Section, North Carolina Department of Crime Control and Public Safety
“This courageous, insightful and provocative book opens a timely and urgent discussion on a difficult topic, presenting multiple perspectives on an issue of enormous consequence. As a lawyer who has walked with clients and families through ordeals similar to this one, I'm grateful to Nick Dubin and his co-authors for illuminating an issue too often shrouded in secrecy and shame. This book should be of wide interest to those in law enforcement and the criminal justice system as well as clinicians, individuals with autism and their families.” – Lisa Greenman, criminal defence attorney specialising in issues relating to developmental disability and mental health and co-founder of Take-2, a summer program for children with autism, Washington, DC
“In bravely revealing his thoughts, insights, and marshaling top experts in the field of autism and sexuality, Nick Dubin has turned a devastating involvement with the criminal justice system into an educational and learning experience. A must read for anyone supporting those on the autism spectrum in the vital area of sexuality.” – Stephen M. Shore, Ed.D., Clinical Assistant Professor of Special Education at Adelphi University, Internationally known consultant, educator, and author on issues related to the autism spectrum
“Rarely has a major challenge of national import to our law enforcement and legal systems been more eloquently expressed than through this courageous story of one remarkable young man, bewildered by his own entanglements. This book may not alleviate the suffering of many before him; but it should prevent the destruction of many lives of adults with Asperger's syndrome whose fragile balance act within a society they struggle to adjust to is violently shaken by a system too rigid to understand, too self-righteous to be just, and too unforgiving to consider facts and clinical knowledge. Mr. Dubin, together with two of the foremost experts in the field, have given a powerful voice to a mission that belongs to us all: to correct an injustice that is still largely unknown but to the many families whose lives unravel at the strike of a sudden door knock.” – Ami Klin PhD, Marcus Autism Center, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta and Emory University School of Medicine
“Sexuality is among the most important issues in the field of ASD that no one is talking about. Well, finally that silence has been broken with an incredibly honest, moving, fascinating and informative volume. The chapters by the family, whose son was charged with viewing child pornography, are among the most honest, gripping, and intense I have ever read and include a fantastic chapter by the son himself. In addition there are two chapters written by renowned international experts in the field which contain clear, comprehensive, and practical advice about sexuality related to people on the Autism Spectrum. Readers of this book will be rewarded with a whole new understanding of the major issues concerning sexuality and sexual development in ASD and will come away from this book deeply moved, surprised, and fully informed about the most important current issues in the field.” – Gary B. Mesibov, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, University of North Carolina
Tony Attwood, PhD, is a clinical psychologist from Brisbane, Australia, with over 30 years of experience with individuals with autism spectrum disorders. He is currently Adjunct Professor at Griffith University in Queensland. He is the best-selling author of The Complete Guide to Asperger's Syndrome, Asperger's Syndrome: A Guide for Parents and Professionals, and the Exploring Feelings program manuals. Isabelle Hénault has a master's degree in sexology and a doctorate of psychology from the Quebec University in Montreal. She has a private practice that provides assessment and therapy for individuals, couples and families, and acts as a consultant to a variety of organizations and schools. Her expertise lies in Asperger's Syndrome, with a special emphasis on sexuality, and she is the author of a sociosexual education programme for people with AS. She is involved with several international research projects on sexual education and psychotherapy for people on the autism spectrum. Nick Dubin was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome in 2004. Since 2004, he has been a leading advocate in the United States on Asperger related issues. He has a doctorate in psychology and a master's degree in learning disabilities. Dr. Dubin's hope is that his cautionary tale will open a discussion on AS and sexuality and prevent others with AS from ending up in the criminal justice system.
1. Introduction. Tony Attwood. 2. My Story. Nick Dubin. 3. The Pathway to Accessing Child Pornography. Tony Attwood. 4. Strategies and Resources. Tony Attwood. 5. A Mother's Journey to Save Her Family. Kitty Dubin. 6. A Father's Journey to Protect His Son: A Legal Perspective. Larry Dubin. 7. Sex Education and Interventions. Isabelle Hénault.
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