Dr Allison Moore and Paul Reynolds have just published their research findings in relation to an 18 month project entitled, “The Problems and Practices of Professionals and Care Workers working with Clients who are Sexually Active but not legally able to Consent to Sex.”

This challenging research focusses on an autism specialist service, Autism Initiatives and Dr Moore conducted research with members of staff to find their thoughts on what professionals and care workers should do when providing support for people whose intellectual disability or mental condition makes their consent – being informed, competent and free from coercion – legally unreliable? As desexualising prejudice about such people recedes, professionals and care workers and their organisations are left with no clear guidance as to how to deal with clients’ sexual desires, with the law unhelpful in the contradictory demands of the 2003 Sexual Offences Act and the 2005 Mental Capacity Act. The added dimension of the spectrum nature of autism makes this subject especially troubling in the current legal and socio-economic landscape.

The report was launched at an event at one of Autism Initiatives resource centre and presents a with wide range of findings and a number of recommendations for the organisation. The overarching consensus is that autistic people should be given education and support in the same way as anybody without a diagnosis, but care needs to be taken to make it person centred and appropriate. A number of the report suggestions are already being implemented by the organisation and Allison and Paul recently returned to present a day long training session about sex and sexualities for senior managers and selected staff as part of this process.

A formal launch at Edge Hill seminar is planned for late spring 2018 and all are welcome. Allison and Paul would like to thank the Research Investment Fund of Edge Hill University for their generous support to make the research possible.

The full report can be downloaded here: The Problems and Practices of Professionals and Care Workers working with Clients who are Sexually Active but not legally able to Consent to Sex report