This entire topic makes my head want to explode. This on top of Nick's autism is a lot to think about! But here goes!!!
Since birth I have looked at my child, and labeled him all things associated with his sex assigned at birth, male.
As the parent of a child with autism, my child does not have the social, emotional or language skills to express feelings on everyday matters, much less something as complicated at this.
Nick's disability has removed him from typical social interactions. Nick goes no where alone and has no friends who are not family, therapist or others in a special needs community. So, there are no clues there.
Nick's disability also means that I have made the choices when it comes to clothes and activities which traditionally might give me clues to Nick's gender identify. That said, Nick has never walked into the store with me and picked up a dress and asked to buy it.
Like all parents I want Nick to live a full and happy life. I'm an adult with a lifetime of experiences behind me and a desire to understand. Still this is complicated in my mind I have to constantly fight against my lifetime of social programming. As I am learning the degree to which the world is not simply Boy/Girl I want to help Nick to live a life feeling understood and seen when it comes to sex, gender and physical attractions. Since we cannot verbally discuss this, my first step has been to observe Nick. Here's what I have so far.
1. Nick's gender identify and sex assigned at birth all appear to be male.
2. Nick always wants to talk to the girls, and Nick tends to ignore the guys. Nick has that usual physical young man reaction to girls he finds attractive, so I'm confident where his physical attractions lie.
3. I have absolutely no idea who he is emotionally attracted to. It might be female because of his strong connection to me. However, at this time I do not know for sure.
Beyond that I am clueless. Nick lacks the capacity to have an emotional discussion, much less verbally identify these complicated emotions.
Below is an easy read on the topic for others trying to wrap your heads around this.
Gender, like autism, exists on a spectrum. In the 1990s, as growing numbers of children sought care related to their gender identity, clinicians and researchers began to notice a trend: An unexpected number of these children were autistic or had autism traits. The observation has spurred researchers to work to quantify the association.