Autistic women’s experience of intimate relationships: the impact of an adult diagnosis

Elizabeth Kock (Adult Autism Assessment and Intervention Service, Central London Community Healthcare NHS Trust, London, UK)
Andre Strydom (Department of Forensic and Neurodevelopmental Science, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London, London, UK) (South London and the Maudsley NHS Trust, London, UK)
Deirdre O’Brady (East London NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK)
Digby Tantam (New School of Psychotherapy and Counselling, Middlesex University, London, UK)

Advances in Autism

ISSN: 2056-3868

Publication date: 12 March 2019



The purpose of this paper is to explore the experience of intimate relationships of women who have been diagnosed with Autism in adulthood.


Semi-structured interviews were used to interview eight participants. The data were transcribed and analysed using the interpretative phenomenological analysis method.


Four overall themes were identified. These included “Response to the diagnosis and receiving more information about Autism”, “Factors influencing dating behaviour”, “Sex and sexual experiences” and “Experience of intimate relationships as a person with Autism”.

Research limitations/implications

The results of this study have implications for both research and clinical practice as it highlights the areas in which women newly diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) could benefit from support.

Practical implications

The study hopes to add to the limited existing research on adult women with ASD.


To date no similar research has investigated the same phenomenon through a similar method.



Kock, E., Strydom, A., O’Brady, D. and Tantam, D. (2019), "Autistic women’s experience of intimate relationships: the impact of an adult diagnosis", Advances in Autism, Vol. 5 No. 1, pp. 38-49.

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