The purpose of this paper is to clarify: the law on capacity to consent to sex; ethical and legal factors in assessing decision‐making capacity of those on the autism (ASD) and neurodiverse (ND) spectrums; and the legal obligations to promote sexual health devolving to local authorities from April 2013. We make proposals to ensure socio‐sexual competence by providing appropriate sex and relationship education (SRE).
Critical legal analysis of case law and legislation on the capacity of the vulnerable to consent to sex, in the context of those diagnosed on the autism and neurodiverse spectrums.
Consent to sex cannot be regarded as informed, autonomous, valid and lawful without socio‐sexual competence. Sex and relationships education should be provided to ensure socio‐sexual competence, in keeping with international conventions and national laws and policies.
There is an urgent need for research into the needs and experiences of people with ASD/ND and their families/carers with regard to the efficacy and tailoring of SRE strategies. This research should feed into SRE family intervention programmes (SREFIPs), developed in partnership with people with ASD/ND, their families/carers and professionals.
This article seeks to resolve many of the existing legal uncertainties surrounding the capacity to consent to sex and to propose novel solutions to ensure the socio‐sexual competence of those diagnosed on the ASD or ND spectrums in relation to their rights to sexual expression.
Mackenzie, R. and Watts, J. (2013), "Sexual health, neurodiversity and capacity to consent to sex", Tizard Learning Disability Review, Vol. 18 No. 2, pp. 88-98. https://doi.org/10.1108/13595471311315119Download as .RIS
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