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Supporting Autistic Adults' Intimate Lives

A participatory research project about autistic adults' intimate lives


SAAIL (Supporting Autistic Adults' Intimate Lives) is a sex-positive research project that aims to explore and represent autistic adults' intimate lives in affirmative ways.  


The motivation behind SAAIL:

Our society is set up according to neurotypical dating and relational scripts. A lack of awareness amongst non-autistic people and within health and social care systems around experiences of neurodiversity may play out in dating and intimate situations can cause barriers for autistic people. This project aims to help address this lack of awareness, asking autistic people how they would like their intimate lives represented and supported.   


SAAIL is funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research's  School For Social Care Research (NIHR SSCR), with the aim of improving adult social care in England. 

Meet the team

If you are an autistic adult living in England, this project includes you! We aim to include all genders and sexual identities and communities. We want to hear from people of all relationship configurations, from all age groups and ethnic and cultural backgrounds. Help us make SAAIL as diverse and inclusive as possible by participating. 

The project will also map out the service providers, social care structures, self advocacy groups, and other individuals and organisations that are already supporting autistic adults' intimate lives. If you know or are part of an organisation doing this work, please get in touch. 

Who the project includes: 


What do we mean by "intimate lives"? 

SAAIL focuses on autistic people’s sexual and romantic interpersonal relationships, practices, preferences, and needs in everyday life. We use the word “intimate lives” to talk about this.  When we talk about intimate lives here, we are referring to aspects which may include (but are in no way limited to) meeting romantic or sexual partners, going on dates, forming relationships and close bonds, expressing one’s sexual identity, experiencing romantic love, engaging in preferred sexual practices, having sex, experiencing sexual pleasure, touch and closeness,  belonging to sexual communities, or starting one’s own chosen family.

Our Research Questions



What are autistic people's experiences of intimacy, relationships, dating, and sex? What would they like to see change to better support their intimate lives?



Who are the people, organisations, communities, and authorities that need to be mobilised to support these changes?



How do we make these changes happen?

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Neurodiverse Love Podcast


Participate in SAAIL

We have now completed interviews and focus groups


  • We need your help to identify existing resources, support, service providers and stakeholders who are already working to support autistic adults intimate lives

  • Help co-produce digital toolkits 

  • Provide suggestions and advice 

If you would like to get involved, offer suggestions, or hear more about SAAIL please get in touch via email, phone or  Twitter (@autlives).



Research findings

We'll share our research findings and project-related outputs below

Our partners and collaborators

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The study represents independent research funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) School for Social Care Research (NIHR SSCR). The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NIHR SSCR, NIHR or Department of Health and Social Care.

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