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Autism and Child Pornography: A Toxic Combination - The Daily Beast

English: Temple Grandin at a book signing at R...
English: Temple Grandin at a book signing at Rochester Community and Technical College in Rochester, Minnesota (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Autism support specialist Heather Conroy ( and I are working on several short "pocket guides" for young adults on the autism spectrum. Our first guide, which we hope to have to publishers later this year, deals with sexuality and relationship in a frank (blunt!) way.

While I strongly disagree with some claims in this article, I have dealt with autistics (male and female) with obsessive online habits (usually gaming, but often in other ways, too). Stories like the following are why our book and others are needed by autistics, families, and support providers:
Autism and Child Pornography: A Toxic Combination - The Daily Beast
Aug 5, 2013 4:45 AM EDT 
It’s a disturbing trend we cannot ignore. Eustacia Cutler, mother of autism advocate Temple Grandin, on why autistic men are viewing child pornography—and being labeled sex offenders. 
Though now equipped with a full-grown body and full-grown sexual drive, many ASD males are stuck emotionally at a prepubescent age. They look like grown men, but inside they’re only 10 years old. They don’t want adults to show them how sex is done; they want 10-year-olds to show them. Back in school when they were little and the other kids played “you show me yours and I’ll show you mine,” ASDs were left out. Now at last they’ve found a way to join the old childhood game and it’s with their trusty friend, the computer. 
Except that’s not how the law sees it. Or how we see it. There are gaps not only in our legal appraisal of this bind, but also in our view of the sexual dynamics of ASDs. 
To quote autism psychologist and researcher Gary Mesibov: “We often find that young men with ASD are functioning intellectually at average, or even above average levels. However, their social and interpersonal level is that of a 10- or 11-year-old…I think this explains why their social-sexual preferences are to observe girls at this age, just as typical 10- or 11-year-old boys prefer interacting, flirting, and thinking about sexual relationships with 10- or 11-year-old girls.”
This article is absurd on some levels, leaping to conclusions that require more quantitative support.

Heather and I have dealt with parents taking away "computer privileges" and punishing young men and women for looking at pictures and videos of adults online. This is often an overreaction to a normal human behavior. Men and women enjoy erotica and mature content. We too often make sexuality and curiosity something "dirty" or "bad" when it isn't.

Here's the blunt truth: I like photos of women. Most men do. While I would rather read or watch a romantic movie (far more "erotic" to me), I know that men and women also enjoy more graphic visual stimulation. Personally, I cannot bear to view any depiction of violence, abuse, bullying, or generally aggressive behavior — such things upset me greatly, so most "porn" is of absolutely no interest to me. I like romance and caring, loving relationships.

Anything, absolutely anything, that involves children in age-inappropriate behaviors, upsets me because I think of it as the worst kind of emotional and physical abuse. Too many of the students I have met were abused, because students with special needs are easy targets.

The challenge is to teach autistics, and all young people, what is and isn't legal, appropriate, and healthy.

More on this in the future.
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  1. Temple Grandin's mother (Eustacia Cutler) has joined the parade of people who proclaim expertise about autism, including newscasters, parents who have a child or adult family member who is Autistic, researchers who skirt the Ethics Codes of their respective organizations, etc., and use that "expertise" to suggest that Autistics have criminal proclivities.

  2. Well stated, Paula. I am particularly upset by the recent (last five or ten years) use of "autism" as a defense in murder trials. Autism has nothing to do with being a good or bad person. There are jerks of all sorts, and autistics are people -- a group that overlaps every other group within human communities.

    It is worse when someone from a public position is heard stating such unsupported nonsense.


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