A Systematic Review of Interventions to Address Inappropriate Masturbation for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder or Other Developmental Disabilities [2019]

Individuals with autism spectrum disorder and other developmental disabilities (ASD/DD) may engage in socially inappropriate masturbation that puts them or others at risk for harm. This may lead professionals, parents, and other stakeholders to intervene in ways that suppress safe, socially appropriate, and gratifying masturbation. Single case experimental intervention research may support prevention of inappropriate masturbation as well as increasing access to specialized instruction for safe and socially appropriate masturbation by individuals with ASD/DD. We conducted a systematic literature review of single case experimental interventions research focused on inappropriate masturbation by individuals with ASD/DD. We found limited experimental studies published over the past 40 years. Various approaches were used to reduce inappropriate masturbation and/or increase appropriate masturbation. Relatively few studies included methods to prevent inappropriate masturbation, and a majority of studies used multi-faceted interventions. We also found a reduction in the use of punishment procedures over time. Studies were subjected to quality appraisal using What Works Clearinghouse standards and revealed relatively few studies of high methodological rigor. Implications for research and practice are discussed in light of the limited evidence and ethical considerations.

Lara E. Mann & Jason C. Travers
Review Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, volume 7, 2020
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