Background: Previous research shows that adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) run several risks in their psychosexual development and that these adolescents can have limited access to reliable information on puberty and sexuality, emphasizing the need for specific guidance of adolescents with ASD in their psychosexual development. Few studies have investigated the effects of psychosexual training programs for adolescents with ASD and to date no randomized controlled trials are available to study the effects of psychosexual interventions for this target group. Methods/Design: The randomized controlled trial (RCT) described in this study protocol aims to investigate the effects of the Tackling Teenage Training (TTT) program on the psychosexual development of adolescents with ASD. This parallel clinical trial, conducted in the South-West of the Netherlands, has a simple equal randomization design with an intervention and a waiting-list control condition. Two hundred adolescents and their parents participate in this study. We assess the participants in both conditions using self-report as well as parent-report questionnaires at three time points during 1 year: at baseline (T1), post-treatment (T2), and for follow-up (T3). Discussion: To our knowledge, the current study is the first that uses a randomized controlled design to study the effects of a psychosexual training program for adolescents with ASD. It has a number of methodological strengths, namely a large sample size, a wide range of functionally relevant outcome measures, the use of multiple informants, and a standardized research and intervention protocol. Also some limitations of the described study are identified, for instance not making a comparison between two treatment conditions, and no use of blinded observational measures to investigate the ecological validity of the research results.

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Journal BMC Psychiatry
Visser, K, Greaves-Lord, K, Tick, N.T, Verhulst, F.C, Maras, A, & Vegt, van der, E.J.M. (2015). Study protocol: A randomized controlled trial investigating the effects of a psychosexual training program for adolescents with autism spectrum disorder. BMC Psychiatry, 15(1). doi:10.1186/s12888-015-0586-7