A Rapid Evidence Assessment on the Effectiveness of Interventions for Autistic Adolescents with Harmful Sexual Behaviours

Project report


Trew, S. and Russell, D.. (2024). A Rapid Evidence Assessment on the Effectiveness of Interventions for Autistic Adolescents with Harmful Sexual Behaviours Canberra, Australia: Australian Catholic University, Institute of Child Protection Studies. https://doi.org/10.26199/acu.906qy
AuthorsTrew, S. and Russell, D.
TypeProject report
Abstract

The management and treatment of harmful sexual behaviors (HSBs) in autistic adolescents is a complex area of research and clinical practice. Autistic adolescents face unique challenges in understanding social and sexual interactions, putting them at a higher risk of engaging in HSBs. Existing research on interventions for HSBs among autistic adults is growing, but evidence for adolescents is not well understood. Thus, understanding the effectiveness of interventions targeting HSBs in autistic adolescents is crucial. We conducted a rapid evidence assessment to review peer-reviewed research on the effectiveness of interventions for autistic adolescents at risk of or engaging in HSBs. In all, 12 studies met the criteria for review. Inclusion criteria required articles to be published in a peer-reviewed journal, be related to HSB prevention and intervention in adolescents aged 12 to 18 with autism spectrum disorder, be written in English, and include original data. Six databases were used, and we screened the titles and abstracts of 34 studies. The reviewed studies described cognitive-behavioral therapy, pharmacological interventions, family involvement, and multidisciplinary team approaches in addressing HSBs. However, the literature has significant limitations and we suggest that the literature is not robust enough to indicate a promising evidence-based approach for interventions for autistic adolescents who are at risk of or who display and engage in HSBs, and the findings are not transferable to practice. Additional research is required to better prepare healthcare professionals for addressing HSBs in autistic adolescents.

Keywordssexual abuse; child abuse; intervention; sexual assault; prevention of child abuse; treatment; sexual harassment; adolescents
Year2024
PublisherAustralian Catholic University, Institute of Child Protection Studies
Place of publicationCanberra, Australia
Page range1-49
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.26199/acu.906qy
Web address (URL)https://www.acu.edu.au/about-acu/institutes-academies-and-centres/institute-of-child-protection-studies/publications
Open accessPublished as ‘gold’ (paid) open access
Research or scholarlyResearch
Publisher's version
License
File Access Level
Open
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
PrintApr 2024
Publication process dates
AcceptedApr 2024
Deposited18 Apr 2024
Additional information

With the exception of the ACU logo, content provided by third parties, and any material protected by a trademark, all textual material presented in this publication is provided under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International licence (CC BY 4.0). You may copy, distribute, and build upon this work for commercial and non-commercial purposes; however, you must attribute ACU as the copyright holder of the work. Content that is copyrighted by a third party is subject to the licensing arrangements of the original owner. Any copyright questions please contact ACU at copyright.officer@acu.edu.au.

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