Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


49th Annual Convention; Denver, CO; 2023

Workshop Details

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Workshop #W26
Providing Behavioral Sex Education for Persons With Autism and Related Issues: Key Points for Behavior Analysts to Consider
Friday, May 26, 2023
8:00 AM–11:00 AM
Convention Center Mile High Ballroom 3A
Area: AUT/DDA; Domain: Service Delivery
CE Instructor: Frank R. Cicero, Ph.D.
FRANK R. CICERO (Seton Hall University)
Description: Research indicates that over 75% of individuals on the autism spectrum have a desire to engage in some form of sexual behavior. This percentage is consistent with data from the neurotypical population, meaning that individuals with autism do not differ from neurotypical individuals when it comes to sexual drive. Research has also found that they do not differ from neurotypical persons with regard to sexual development. Why then, is problematic sexual behavior so often reported in adolescents and adults on the autism spectrum? The answer lies more in social skills, communication, and knowledge deficits than in issues with sexual development or interest. Here is where the knowledge and skills of a behavior analyst can be most beneficial when it comes to treating behaviors of a sexual topography. Through this talk, the audience will be introduced to some key points in the assessment and treatment of socially problematic sexual behavior in individuals with autism as well as how to assess and build socially appropriate, yet personally satisfying and pleasurable sexual behavior. Given time constraints, this presentation will focus on a few major treatment areas in order to introduce the audience to how behavior analytic principles and procedures can be helpful in the treatment of sexual behavior. We will focus heavily on behavioral assessment prior to treatment and will also discuss BACB ethical codes that must be considered when treating or teaching behavior of a sexual topography.
Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) list reasons why sexual expression in people with autism is often socially problematic, (2) list three ways that reinforcement can be used to shape socially appropriate sexual behavior, (3) describe three assessment methods useful for behavior of a sexual topography.
Activities: The workshop will consist of the following activities: 1. Didactic instruction by the presenter, 2. Group discussion, 3. Presentation and review of teaching materials, 4. Role play and practice of presented teaching procedures where applicable, 5. Sharing and discussion of research data
Audience: The current workshop content is geared towards the following audience: 1. Intermediate and advanced behavior analysts who have a desire to learn how to apply behavioral principles and teaching methods to the subject of sexual behavior. 2. Educators and related service professionals who have an advanced behavioral background and work with individuals with developmental issues that have needs in the area of sexual behavior. 3. Students in a behavior analysis program who want to be introduced to the topic.
Content Area: Practice
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): Autism, Puberty, Sex, Sexuality



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