Emerging perspectives on adolescents and young adults with high-functioning autism spectrum disorders, violence, and criminal law.
ABSTRACT As the prevalence of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) has increased, attention has shifted toward consideration of ASDs in adolescence and adulthood, as well as public health repercussions for this population. Since the social and emotional deficits within ASDs may be salient during incidents of unintended criminal or violent behavior, one area of focus is involvement of adolescents and young adults with ASD in the criminal justice system. Without a thorough understanding of how and why individuals with ASDs may exhibit criminal behavior, judicial and legislative state systems have begun to develop policies lacking a substantial evidence base. In this article, we attempt to synthesize the literature on one type of ASD (high functioning) and criminal behavior. Three specific deficits characteristic of individuals with ASDs (theory of mind, emotion regulation, and moral reasoning) are examined as potential confluent forces leading to criminal behavior among individuals with ASDs. Legal and policy recommendations are presented.
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ABSTRACT: This paper provides a systemic review of the available literature on people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in the criminal justice system (CJS). The review considers two main types of study: those that examined the prevalence of people with ASD in the CJS and those that examined the prevalence of offending in populations with ASD. In addition, types of offences in people with ASD, co-morbid psychiatric diagnoses, and characteristics of people with ASD who commit offences (including predisposing factors) are considered. A combination of search terms was used in a variety of databases in order to find all of the available literature on this topic, and research studies were included based on specified inclusion and exclusion criteria. It was found that whilst there is an emerging literature base on this topic, there are a wide variety of methodologies used, making direct comparison difficult. Nevertheless it can be concluded so far that people with ASD do not seem to be disproportionately over-represented in the CJS, though they commit a range of crimes and seem to have a number of predisposing features. There is poor evidence of the presence of comorbid psychiatric diagnoses (except in mental health settings) amongst offenders with ASD, and little evidence of the oft-asserted over-representation of certain kinds of crimes. It is recommended that further research of good quality is required in this area, rather than studies that examine populations that are not representative of all those with ASD.Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 02/2014; 44(11). DOI:10.1007/s10803-014-2046-5
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ABSTRACT: Aggressive behaviour is a major problem in individuals with an intellectual disability (ID) as well as in individuals with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). There are indications that suggest a link between cognitive shifting and aggression. In this study, reports of aggressive incidents of adolescents and young adults with different clinical diagnoses (ID, ID + ASD, ASD) were collected during 1 year, using the Staff Observation Aggression Scale-Revised. Whether they were diagnosed with ID, ASD or both; individuals who displayed aggression were found to face more cognitive shifting difficulties than non-aggressive individuals, while no significant differences were found on severity of ASD symptoms. Study results support the assumption that a cognition-based model for aggression may be more adequate than a diagnose-based model.Research in Developmental Disabilities 09/2014; 35(9):2137–2147. DOI:10.1016/j.ridd.2014.04.021