PROCEDURE FOR THE DETECTION AND ATTENTION TO SEXUAL CRIME IN AUTISM

Actualizado: 25 de nov de 2020


Mexico ranks first in the world in sexual abuse, physical violence and homicide against children under 14 years of age. Child sexual abuse is the crime most committed and reported whereas the incident is highest in girls. Although there is no exact data on sexual abuse of people with autism, there is information that indicates that in people with developmental disorders in general, the risk of sexual abuse is doubled (Mansell, Sobsey, and Moskal, 1998).

Child sexual violence: It is any contact of a sexual nature, between a girl, boy or adolescent in order to stimulate the sexuality of the person who carries it out (adult, adolescent). It is an action of use of power that transgresses the autonomy and bodily and emotional integrity perpetuated against girls, boys and adolescents (ADIVAC).

*Inform the affected person about their right to report the acts of violence that occur.


Sexual violence consists of:

● Showing pornography

● Exhibition of the naked or semi-naked body, with premeditation, treachery and taking advantage of the girl, boy or adolescent sexually

● Contact with the body of the child or adolescent

● Making them touch the body of the abuser.

*Secrecy sustains abuse, generates intimidation and guilt, as well as complicity and impunity.

Definitions of the Mexican penal code

Rape: Those who copulate with a person of any sex through physical or moral violence. Sexual Abuse: Those who, without the purpose of getting to copulation, carry out a sexual act on a person under twelve years of age or person who does not have the ability to understand the meaning of the fact.

Rape, Article 180: Whoever copulates with a person over twelve and under eighteen years of age, obtaining their consent through any type of deception Incest, Article 181: To siblings and to the ascendants or consanguineous descendants in a straight line who with knowledge of their kinship have copulation with each other.

PROCEDURE FOR THE DETECTION AND ATTENTION TO THE SEXUAL CRIME IN AUTISM Corruption of minors and incapacitated, Article 183: To who by any means, procures, induces or facilitates that a minor person or who does not have the capacity to understand the meaning of the fact, perform acts of corporal exhibitionism, lewd or sexual intercourse, prostitution, drunkenness, consumption of drugs or hallucinogens', sexual practices, etc. Child pornography, Article 187: Minor video recording, photography or exhibition through the media.

Autism and sexual abuse: Individuals with autism face social, communication and behavioral challenges that affect their interaction in an environment largely designed for neurotypical people. Some of the challenges in communication and socialization can be interpreted as vulnerabilities that can be used to attack the person. For some people on the spectrum, it can be difficult to identify other people's emotions through their body language. Dennis, Lokcyer, and Lazanby (2000) found that children with high functioning autism showed less ability to understand deceptive body expressions and understood less, the reasons why someone would display deceptive behavior, compared to neurotypical children of their age and gender. In addition to the challenges of socialization and recognition of emotions, children with autism present communication challenges. Scientific evidence indicates that 50% of children with ASD are not verbal (APA, 2000). Although there are augmentative and alternative communication methods, being non-verbal increases people's vulnerability by becoming a more tempting target for bullies. On the other hand, parents and caregivers of children on the autism spectrum experience high levels of stress and anxiety, which can vary throughout the life cycle, according to the acceptance of the diagnosis and the development challenges of the child or adolescent (Hall, H and Graff, C. 2011). This implies that they have a greater tendency to experience situations of domestic violence, which can include psychological and physical aggression, neglect and/or omission. These experiences increase the vulnerability of the child or adolescent in becoming a victim of sexual violence and other forms of aggression by other family members or third parties and diminishes the capacity for prevention and timely intervention of sexual abuse.

Statistics: The National Public Radio (NPR) in the United States conducted a study to examine the prevalence of sexual harassment and abuse among people with intellectual disabilities, the most relevant data indicates that:

● People with intellectual disabilities are sexually assaulted 7 times more often than those without this condition

● The aggressors are usually known people and the aggression occurs during the day

● The reasons for assaulting someone with an intellectual disability lies in the ease of handling them and their difficulty in bearing witness of the act. This means that many of the sexual crimes committed are not detected or punished.

● Police and lawyers commonly refuse to take these cases, due to their high difficulty in winning in court.

Prevention measures

Sex education in people with autism is extremely relevant. it is necessary that parents are the ones who teach this subject to their children, also by the hand of a therapist or specialist in child behavior. Children and adolescents with autism have difficulty learning social skills from their peers, teaching materials and self-help books. People with autism must recognize the difference between appropriate and inappropriate behavior. It is necessary to focus on teaching:

1. Recognition of body parts with appropriate names

2. Restriction of nudity in private spaces such as the bathroom and own rooms

3. Independence in dressing and undressing

4. Independence to go to the bathroom, cleaning and washing up

5. Understanding privacy and denial of help from any adult, in personal care situations

6. Allowing themselves to explore and enjoy contact with their own bodies

7. Recognition of private parts and parts of the body used for social contact

8. Setting limits on their bodies from others and that of others from them

9. Educating them on appropriate and inappropriate secrets

10. Closing doors when entering the bathroom or your room

11. Independent use of public toilets

It is necessary to be clear about the level of functioning of the person so that, based on this, the sexuality content that can be learned can be chosen, or if the intervention will focus only on the development of skills or on behavior modeling (Arroyo Estrada , N. 2018).


Specific indicators of sexual violence

● Testimony

● Physical discomfort (lacerations in the genital and / or anal area, urinary tract infections, constipation, STIs, pregnancy)

● Reluctance to get close to any particular person, excessive attachment to parents or caregivers

● Regression in behaviors, habits, routines, stages of development

● Eroticization / Hyper-sexualization: repetition of adult sexual behaviors, masturbation, shame, drawings of genitalia, sexual games

● Selective mutism

● Night terrors

● Depression

● Anxiety

● Irritability

● Evasion of places

● Difficulty sitting or walking

● Difficulty staying alone


When a person with autism is sexually abused, their defense mechanisms try to make sense of the situation, which can lead them to intensify self-regulation movements, self-aggression, repetitive behaviors, or the development of new behaviors.


Nonspecific indicators of sexual abuse

● Abrupt behavior modification

● Emotional ambivalence, guilt, crying for no apparent reason, suicidal thoughts, depression, anxiety

● Enuresis-encopresis

● Trouble sleeping, insomnia, nightmares

● Hypervigilan