Overview of the Gender/Sexuality Node

Drs. Maria Massolo & Lisa Croen

Mission: The Gender, Sexuality, and Reproductive (GSR) Health node seeks to improve sexual and reproductive healthcare and outcomes for Autistic people, with a focus on Autistic women and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual Autistic people across the lifespan.

Research Agenda: Autistic people often have complex medical and educational support needs that may affect puberty, sexuality development, autonomy, and personal identity. This means
they may require adapted or specialized sexual and reproductive health services. Service access disparities continue in adulthood, as multiple studies show Autistic women are less likely to receive basic sexual and reproductive health care compared to non-Autistic women. Further, a substantial proportion of Autistic adolescents and adults are sexual and gender minorities. Our GSR research node will systematically address service gaps and health disparities for Autistic individuals regarding sexuality education, sexual violence prevention, reproductive
health and pregnancy, and sexual and gender minority health. Specific research priorities include developing sexual health curricula for Autistic individuals, promoting sexual health education among individuals and families, understanding intersectional identity issues, and promoting self-determination. The GSR node will advance research and facilitate public policy
efforts to address service gaps and health disparities for Autistic individuals by: 1. Engaging a broad range of interested parties, including Autistic individuals, families, researchers, healthcare providers, and policymakers with an interest and expertise in these topics, 2. Establishing research priorities, 3. Disseminating information and research findings, 4. Creating research capacity in the Autistic community, including individuals with ID.

Responsibilities of Gender/Sexuality ANSWER Reps

Advisory Group (AG) members will serve as project collaborators, providing input on key decisions and advice on the course of the project. A 17-hour commitment per grant year is
calculated as follows:

Meetings: participation of all AG members is expected for

  1. Two working meetings per year in March and September (2 hrs each)
  2. One individual meeting per year with node liaison (1 hr)

Activities: Ad hoc requests (up to 12 hours)

Over the course of the grant, members of the AG will participate in node activities based on their
interests, availability, knowledge, experience and perspectives. Members may:

  • Provide their active engagement and input on research priorities
  • Identify opportunities to disseminate research findings, including helping develop a dissemination plan
  • Advise on approaches to enhance the translation of research findings
  • Develop messaging around research findings, ensuring consistency in communications
  • Review drafts of grant proposals
  • Contribute to the development, writing, and/or editing of grant proposals
  • Contribute to the writing, reviewing and editing of node manuscripts. Such contributions will be recognized with co-authorship on the manuscripts.

We are looking for individuals with the following experience:

  • Autistic/Neurodivergent lived experience

Preferred Qualifications for Gender/Sexuality ANSWER Reps:
Lived experience and expertise (academic and/or advocacy experience) consistent with the GSR node’s mission and research agenda.