Autism, Puberty and Sexual Aggression

Autism, Puberty and Sexual Aggression

I realize this is a very touchy subject but I think it’s one we should be able to talk about. 

For the past few years,  we have been dealing with sexually aggressive behavior,  from our oldest.  Things like groping,  fondling and what we dubbed as creepy kissing have all been an ongoing issue. Last summer,  the behavior just stopped and we were very,  very grateful. 

We haven’t had any problems at all in over a year…that is..until recently. 

We are beginning to experience these problems again.  I don’t really know what to do about this behavior at this point.  However,  I do know that I need to protect the younger boys,  as they appear to be the main target.

We had an incident yesterday and again today.  Elliott came to find me yesterday and told me that Gavin was trying to make Elliott kiss him on the lips. Elliott said that when he told Gavin no, he would pout and make Elliott feel bad,  so Elliott would comply because he didn’t want to make Gavin sad.  Elliott actually used the words “Daddy,  Gavin’s creeping me out”. 

I’m grateful that Elliott was able to tell me what happened and that he came to me in the first place.

That said,  I feel sick to my stomach that he had to.

This morning,  Gavin tried to do something similar to Emmett.  Only this time it was right in front of me.

I wish I knew what was going through his head.  The behavior is inappropriate…period.  However,  is this simply a boundaries issue or something else? Gavin was sexually abused by his biological father and or paternal grandmother.  His biological father would watch point with him when he was 3-5 years old. 

When his paternal grandfather died,  his paternal grandmother used him as a surrogate.  She admitted to sleeping naked with him while we were in court fighting to protect him from all of this.

I know this may have something to do with this as well….

I’m so lost right now but we see the doctors in a few days so that will help out.

For right now,  we have reinstated the rule that says,  Gavin can’t be alone with his brothers or any other child for that matter.  This is tough to enforce but I have to think of Elliott and Emmett. 

Regardless of Gavin’s intentions or motives,  I can’t let this behavior continue.  I know some people out there will be saying that this is just innocent and I’m overreacting.  Well that’s fine,  but when it’s your children in this kind of situation,  I bet you’d sing a different tune.

If you have followed our story for awhile,  you probably have read about the things that used to happen.  They were deliberate acts of sexual aggression.  We had to take rather dramatic steps in order to quash the behavior then and it will likely be the same once again. 

I hate this.  I hate the idea of having to protect one child from another. Gavin is not a monster,  however,  the behavior is a serious problem.  I don’t know if this is simply an impulse control issue or something more. 

I know that puberty is tough for any parent and child but with special needs kids that have other issues as well with things like,  boundaries and impulse control,  it’s even tougher.

Does anyone have any experience here?  Talking to him simply doesn’t work,  nor do social stories. 

I know this is difficult to talk about but I’m pretty sure I’m not the first parent to go through something like this. By talking about this perhaps we can help each other to address some of these more deliquet issues.

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Monica LT

@Lisa Brown on Facebook hate to sound cynical, but it is so tiresome when people with all of the training and none of the experience come in throwing around “therapist words”.

April Gear

My son is having problems since he was little with the innapropriate behavior. He likes showing his privates and touching himself in front of everyone as well as running around without clothes on. He even got in trouble for mooning people at school. His father and I are at a loss as how to stop it. We've tried everything we can think of too. I think maybe a therapist would help but his dad is the kind that doesn't like to ask for help. I want to stop it now before he becomes older as he is only 8 1/2 now. He was never abused so I don't know where he gets the idea that its ok to do this. He makes me uncomfortable when he wants to touch me in private parts or show me his parts. We've explained to him that this is definately not appropriate behavior and that your private parts are private and that no one should see them except the doctor or if he gets hurt or has a medical issue. It would be interesting to see if you find a way to stop your son because it seems like there are a lot of us that need help in that dept. with our kids.


The surge of hormones really wreaks havoc among ASD kids. We are going thru the same stuff and our son was not sexually abused. They have no clue how to handle all these flood of urges (try to remember your confusion during puberty) and they lack the filtering that is inate in most typical kids.
Set firm boundaries and enforce consequences despite his resistance and be consistent with it. 
If you have not tried medication now is not the time to resist it. Talk to your doctor about it.
Redirect the behavior thru other physical activities(sports, running,jumping,etc). The last thing a tired kid would think about is sexual urges.
The first time we saw our son french kissing the dog was gross and funny at the same time. Seeing it over and over was just too much for us.
BTW I am a therapist myself and I too am having a difficult time with my own ASD child so hang in there.


@Jo thank you 🙂

Lisa Brown on Facebook

Also tho if our kids r delayed across other soc skills it is to be xpctd they will also require much edu on pubalescent boundaries. Aside from previous abuse,u had to xpct delays in this area.use pics of good touch and aside from isolating hav sibs get gavins permission b4 hi5s etc and role play exaggerated body space respect.he has to learn the good ways to touch


We are dealing with some of the same stuff here. I worry./ I dont know what to do either. I'm at a loss and trying to prtect everyone. But unlike your Gavin nothing has ever happened to Sammy that I can see
My recent post Loose Connection

jessica steiner

i'm less and less inclined to believe in reasoning w the kids…you don't owe him an explanation. it's No. No. No. No. No. i dont think consequences work w a lot of the kids either. it just has to be asserted, over and over and over… it may even just be that you keep asserting for your own sanity and to give the message that you're on top of this to the other boys, till G grows out of it.

i think you're right to protect the little ones, not even on any assumption that G will 'hurt' them, but things that happen to us as kids stay with us for so long… they don't need this association with him and they shouldn't have to feel that his feelings are more important than theirs; it's so great that the little guy was able to express himself so clearly w you. puberty can be long… you could have a lot of this ahead. i would bet that it really is an impulse control thing, at bottom. i'm sorry i wish i had something smarter to say.

My recent post Pissed Off

Lisa Brown on Facebook

Puzzling for sure~dig deeper and grill those around him when it stopped teachers, fam friends,therapists.was it a diff toileting process? Hormonal? Distracted developmentally w games or schools or movie? Try substituting an activity ev time he does it.? In our prayers


I wish I had some advice to give you, but sadly I cannot. I'm sure you've thought about it, but it does sound like the sexual abuse in his past could possibly be resulting in this, him not understanding what is and isn't "okay". If you already had trouble understanding people's body language and intentions behind their actions, then someone you look up to doing 'things' like that can really send mixed signals.

I wish you guys the best though. -hugs big-

Angie Terry on Faceb

there should be no doubt in your mind that he is acting out what he experienced. i hope you can get some advice from the doctor! its definitely not impulse control and you are definitely not over reacting. what is gavin diagnosed with? and does he take medication?

there should be no doubt in your mind that he is acting out what he experienced. i hope you can get some advice from the doctor! its definitely not impulse control and you are definitely not over reacting. what is gavin diagnosed with? and does he take medication?

Kim McLeod on Facebook

SN kids really need absolutes on the rules! That’s something we mourn at every development 🙁
B Mod will be huge!
God bless!

Autie Kibbee

Just curious have you brought this up with his therapist? Counselor? I would think maybe they could offer some suggestions. And if you don't have a therapist for him, maybe you should? I have never had a problem with my son being sexually aggressive, however, we have had problems with a LOT of masturbation. Once we sat him down and explained why it wasn't good to masturbate sooo much, things kind of calmed down. Now, he knows he is only supposed to do it "once in a while" not several times a day! Every kid is different. So, I am at a loss for giving you any other recommendations, but I will say this – never underestimate what your child can comprehend. Sometimes it just takes a sit down conversation, a heart to heart, to get your meanings to come across for them. But I would also suggest talking to someone, like a therapist, who can make unbiased suggestions and advice. Good luck! God Bless.


I will second therapy for this. Abused children have a lot of things going on during puberty…. their own feelings, memories of how adults dealt with it and a sudden realization that what was done to them was bad, wrong and shameful (shameful for the adult, but the shame becomes internalized, partly for not realizing it was wrong at the time… it's very complex psychologically and even neurotypical kids often lose it when that hits, even though they don't know why).

Good luck. Sound advice? I have none. My 10yo daughter is having some issues with sexuality and is very…. flamboyant…. about it…. and her much older sister/sister's friends are often the target so it's a little easier because the older girls (late teens) can reinforce our rules/lessons…. but she was also never abused, and that adds a really, really complex layer to it all, particularly for an a child with autism.

Good luck, I can only imagine the pain and exhaustion caused by this.


Oh.. He\’s in therapy and has been for about 7 years. I appreciate the suggestions everyone. 🙂

We haven\’t had to worry about this is about a year. Last time it was adults that he targeted, and now it seems to be his little brothers. I\’m hoping we can regain control over this behavior before it gets worse.

Talking to Gavin about this does not work. We tried for many years. That\’s why I\’m at a loss. The last time it just stopped out of nowhere, and so I\’m not surenwhat happened.

Thanks again to everyone for your great advice and kind thoughts 🙂

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