By Tas Kronby, TasThoughts, LLC
The answer is both yes and no. It’s not about sexuality, it’s about the gender diversity in the autistic community that includes sexual orientation.
What is Neurodiversity?
Neurodiversity refers to variations in social communication, learning, attention, and other brain functions. Neurodiversity describes people who have differences in thinking and have just as much potential to make positive contributions to society as neurotypical people.
What is Gender Diversity?
The definition of gender diversity can vary. In the article quoted below, gender diversity refers to people whose gender identity and sex assigned at birth do not correspond based on society’s expectations.
The National LGBT Health Education Center published a report in 2020 on Neurodiversity & Gender-Diverse Youth which stated that “evidence suggests that neurodiverse people, particularly those on the autism spectrum, are more likely to be gender diverse and have a lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, or asexual sexual orientation, compared to neurotypical people.” (5,6)
One assumption is that since autistic people do not readily participate nor understand social norms. In general, they are more open-minded and willing to live their authentic life although fear is unavoidable coming out due the worry and stress of experiencing discrimination.
Some clinicians and researchers have considered gender diversity in autistic youth to be a “special interest” phase, rather than a persistent identity. (4,5) In this situation, this often leads both families and doctors to unknowingly dismiss the child’s gender diversity as just a “symptom of autism.”
For some, gender identity is an area to explore and of fluidity. Some autistic people feel most comfortable with the non-binary gender identification.
There are ways to safely support gender identity exploration. As you learn about yourself, you can decide what types of gender affirmation will help you embody your authentic self.
If medical advice is necessary, providers can offer an affirming clinical approach that validates the patient’s gender identity narrative, while guiding the patient to explore their gender identity in more depth and connecting them with peer groups.
In the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychology, it is mentioned how opportunities to meet invited guest teens and adults representing diverse gender journeys, identities, and outcomes provided a primary means for exploring different gender paths (RCA#3). More than half of the members expressed the importance of the group to learn about and explore their gender identity. Parents too, felt the group was positive, allowing their children to explore a range of gender options.
International Asexuality Day was April 6. This event is a worldwide campaign promoting the ace umbrella. This includes demisexual, grey-asexual and other ace identities. The four themes of International Asexuality Day (IAD), as stated in International Asexuality Day, are Advocacy, Celebration, Education and Solidarity.
It is encouraged that anyone who identifies under the ace umbrella to participate. Participation could be as simple as a social media post. To become more involved, there are organizations all over the world holding events, running campaigns and supporting events. To learn more about how to get involved, please see this link.
No matter your neurotype, gender exploration and validation is a real and important journey in self exploration.