Ableism and Sex: We Need to Comprehensively Address Quality of Life

Ableism and Sex: We Need to Comprehensively Address Quality of Life

Susan Wilczynski, Ph.D., BCBA-D (Ball State University)

Sexuality is a key feature of the intersectional way we define our identities as human beings. Healthy, consensual sexual expression leads to a higher quality of life for most people. Sexuality education can help people understand their own sexuality as well as how to manage their intimate relationships with others. Yet, sexuality education is painfully limited for disabled individuals, with a particular paucity of sexuality of education for autistic people. This presentation describes the reasons sexuality education is woefully insufficient for autistic people including, but not restricted to the ableist views held by most neurotypical adults. Practitioners should self-assess their own biases about disabled people, in general, and autistic individuals, in particular, if they seek to produce socially meaningful improvements in their clients’ lives. Caregivers who self-assess the biases they have learned from the larger culture may be better prepared to support a complete human experience for their autistic family and friends. In addition, practitioners and caregivers need to recognize the harm heteronormative assumptions they have likely adopted can cause for many autistic people. This presentation serves as a starting point for practitioners and caregivers to understand the relationship between ableism and sexuality education for autistic people. Strategies for becoming more comfortable with the topic of sexuality will be offered to help participants to explore the role they can play in diminishing discrimination against autistic people and focusing on quality of life in a more comprehensive way. 

BACB Ethics CEUs, SW CEUs, SCECH CEUs, and APA CEUs

Dr. Susan Wilczynski
Dr. Susan Wilczynski is the Plassman Family Distinguished Professor of Special Education and Applied Behavior Analysis. She regularly works to expand her scope of competence on the topic of sexuality for autistics and the influence of ableism on the practice of behavior analysis. Susan is the Coordinator for the ABAI’s Practice Board and is a currently Associate Editor for Behavior Analysis In Practice. Earlier in here career, she served as the Executive Director of the National Autism Center, where she chaired the first National Standards Project. In addition, she developed the first center-based treatment program at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and was the first woman with an active research lab in the Psychology Department at the University of Southern Mississippi. Susan has edited or written multiple books including her most recent book, “A practical guide to finding treatments that work for people with autism” and published scholarly works in the Behavior Analysis in Practice, Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, Behavior Modification, Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, and Psychology in the Schools. She is currently editing a book on transition-aged autistic individuals and a special issue on international applications of small n design in the schools. She is a licensed psychologist and a board-certified behavior analyst.
Sun 5:43 pm - 12:00 am
Keynote
Michigan Autism Conference