Telling disabled and autistic sexuality stories: reflecting upon the current research landscape and possible future developments

Toft, A. ORCID: 0000-0003-3734-2242, 2023. Telling disabled and autistic sexuality stories: reflecting upon the current research landscape and possible future developments. Sexes, 4, 102–117. ISSN 2411-5118

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Developments in the study of sexuality in the lives of disabled people have been relatively slow, as the spectre of a medicalised model continues to dominate most debates and invalidate any form of sexual identity. The social model of disability has enabled the amplification of voices that have been previously silenced; however, progress has stalled. Within autism studies, however, the rise of neurodiversity studies coupled with intersectionality, has presented an opportunity to explore sexualities in terms of difference rather than deficiency, therefore bypassing deficit models which have dominated any study of non-heterosexual lives. Such deficit models have focussed upon discovering what it is about autism that leads autistic people to think they are non-heterosexual, often resulting in a lack of support for young LGBT+ people as sexuality is dismissed as a result of autism. Reflecting upon findings from my own ongoing work alongside emerging social research, this article explores important developments and potential future directions. This will highlight the progress made and the barriers remaining. Using a sociological approach and a framework inspired by Plummer, which focusses upon the importance of sexual stories, the article will show that much needs to be done. The diversity of goals and multiplicity of stories means that disabled and autistic sexuality stories have not been accepted into the public consciousness.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Sexes
Creators: Toft, A.
Publisher: MDPI
Date: 10 February 2023
Volume: 4
ISSN: 2411-5118
Rights: © 2023 by the author. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Record created by: Laura Ward
Date Added: 16 Feb 2023 12:00
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2023 12:00

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