Correlates of Police Involvement Among Adolescents and Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Abstract

This study aimed to describe police interactions, satisfaction with police engagement, as well as examine correlates of police involvement among 284 adolescents and adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) followed over a 12- to 18-month period. Approximately 16% of individuals were reported to have some form of police involvement during the study period. Aggressive behaviors were the primary concern necessitating police involvement. Individuals with police involvement were more likely to be older, have a history of aggression, live outside the family home, and have parents with higher rates of caregiver strain and financial difficulty at baseline. Most parents reported being satisfied to very satisfied with their children’s police encounters. Areas for future research are discussed in relation to prevention planning.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

References

  1. Allen, D., Evans, C., Hider, A., Hawkins, S., Peckett, H., & Morgan, H. (2008). Offending behaviour in adults with asperger syndrome. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 38(4), 748–758.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  2. American Psychiatric Association (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: DSM-IV-TR. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.

    Google Scholar 

  3. American Psychiatric Association (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th edn.). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Anderson, C., Law, J. K., Daniels, A., Rice, C., Mandell, D. S., Hagopian, L., & Law, P. A. (2012). Occurrence and family impact of elopement in children with autism spectrum disorders. Pediatrics, 130(5), 870–877.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  5. Bjørkly, S. (2009). Risk and dynamics of violence in Asperger’s syndrome: A systematic review of the literature. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 14(5), 306–312.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Brown-Lavoie, S.M., Viecili, M.A., & Weiss, J.A. (2014). Sexual knowledge and victimization in adults with autism spectrum disorders. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 44(9), 2185–2196.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  7. Bureau of Justice Statistics (2014). Crimes against persons with disabilities, 20092012 statistical tables. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Cashin, A., & Newman, C. (2009). Autism in the criminal justice detention system: A review of the literature. Journal of Forensic Nursing, 5(2), 70–75.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  9. Clifford, K. (2010). The thin blue line of mental health in Australia. Police Practice and Research, 11(4), 355–370.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Compton, M. T., Bahora, M., Watson, A. C., & Oliva, J. R. (2008). A comprehensive review of extant research on crisis intervention team (CIT) programs. Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, 36(1), 47–55.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  11. Cotton, D., & Coleman, T. G. (2010). Canadian police agencies and their interactions with persons with a mental illness: A systems approach. Police Practice and Research, 11(4), 301–314.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Crane, L., Maras, K. L., Hawken, T., Mulcahy, S., & Memon, A. (2016). Experiences of autism spectrum disorder and policing in England and Wales: Surveying police and the autism community. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 46(6), 2028–2041.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  13. Croen, L. A., Zerbo, O., Qian, Y., Massolo, M. L., Rich, S., Sidney, S., & Kripke, C. (2015). The health status of adults on the autism spectrum. Autism, 19(7), 814–823.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  14. Crutchfield, R. D., Skinner, M. L., Haggarty, K. P., McGlynn, A., & Catalano, R. F. (2012). Racial disparity in police contacts. Race and Justice, 2, 179–202.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. de Tribolet-Hardy, F., Kesic, D., & Thomas, S. D. M. (2015). Police management of mental health crisis situations in the community: Status quo, current gaps and future directions. Policing and Society, 25(3), 294–307.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Debbaudt, D. (2006). Disclosing to the Authorities. In Dinah Murray (Ed.), Coming out Asperger: Diagnosis, disclosure and self-confidence. Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

    Google Scholar 

  17. Durose, M., Smith, E., & Langan, P. (2007). Contact between police and the public 2005. Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics.

    Google Scholar 

  18. Edelson, M. G. (2010). Sexual abuse of children with autism: Factors that increase risk and interfere with recognition of abuse. Disability Studies Quarterly, 30(1), 1–17.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Fitzgerald, R. T., & Carrington, P. J. (2011). Disproportionate minority contact in Canada: Police and visible minority youth 1. Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice, 53(4), 449–486.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Franz, S., & Borum, R. (2011). Crisis intervention teams may prevent arrests of people with mental illnesses. Police Practice and Research, 12(3), 265–272.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Freckelton, I., & List, D. (2009). Asperger’s disorder, criminal responsibility and criminal culpability. Psychiatry, Psychology and Law, 16(1), 16–40.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Fry, A. J., O’riordan, D. P., & Geanellos, R. (2002). Social control agents or front-line carers for people with mental health problems: Police and mental health services in Sydney, Australia. Health and Social Care in the Community, 10(4), 277–286. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2524.2002.00371.x.

  23. Garland, A. F., Lau, A. S., Yeh, M., McCabe, K. M., Hough, R. L., & Landsverk, J. A. (2005). Racial and ethnic differences in utilization of mental health services among high-risk youths. American Journal of Psychiatry, 162(7), 1336–1343.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  24. Greenberg, M. T., & Lippold, M. A. (2013). Promoting healthy outcomes among youth with multiple risks: Innovative approaches. Annual Review of Public Health, 34, 253–270.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  25. Gurney, J. G., McPheeters, M. L., & Davis, M. M. (2006). Parental report of health conditions and health care use among children with and without autism: National Survey of Children’s Health. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, 160(8), 825–830.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Hall, A. V., Godwin, M., Wright, H. H., & Abramson, R. K. (2007). Criminal justice issues and autistic disorder. Growing up with Autism, 272–292.

  27. Hartley, S. L., Barker, E. T., Baker, J. K., Seltzer, M. M., & Greenberg, J. S. (2012). Marital satisfaction and life circumstances of grown children with autism across 7 years. Journal of Family Psychology, 26(5), 688.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  28. Heeramun, R., Magnusson, C., Gumpert, C. H., Granath, S., Lundberg, M., Dalman, C., & Rai, D. (2017). Autism and convictions for violent crimes: Population-based cohort study in Sweden. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. doi:10.1016/j.jaac.2017.03.011.

    Google Scholar 

  29. Helverschou, S. B., Rasmussen, K., Steindal, K., Søndanaa, E., Nilsson, B., & Nøttestad, J. A. (2015). Offending profiles of individuals with autism spectrum disorder: A study of all individuals with autism spectrum disorder examined by the forensic psychiatric service in Norway between 2000 and 2010. Autism, 19(7), 850–858.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  30. Helverschou, S. B., Steindal, K., Nøttestad, J. A., & Howlin, P. (2017). Personal experiences of the criminal justice system by individuals with autism spectrum disorders. Autism. doi:10.1177/13623613166855544.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  31. Hodgetts, S., Nicholas, D., & Zwaigenbaum, L. (2013). Home sweet home? Families’ experiences with aggression in children with autism spectrum disorders. Focus on Autism and other Developmental Disabilities, 28(3), 166–174.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Howlin, P., & Karpf, J. (2004). Using the social communication questionnaire to identify “autism spectrum” disorders associated with other genetic conditions: Findings from a study of individuals with Cohen syndrome. Autism, 8(2), 175–182.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  33. Jones, S. C., & Harwood, V. (2009). Representations of autism in Australian print media. Disability & Society, 24(1), 5–18.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Kalb, L. G., Stuart, E. A., Freedman, B., Zablotsky, B., & Vasa, R. (2012). Psychiatric-related emergency department visits among children with an autism spectrum disorder. Pediatric Emergency Care, 28(12), 1269–1276.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  35. Kanne, S. M., & Mazurek, M. O. (2011). Aggression in children and adolescents with ASD: Prevalence and risk factors. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 41(7), 926–937.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  36. Kawakami, C., Ohnishi, M., Sugiyama, T., Someki, F., Nakamura, K., & Tsujii, M. (2012). The risk factors for criminal behaviour in high-functioning autism spectrum disorders (HFASDs): A comparison of childhood adversities between individuals with HFASDs who exhibit criminal behaviour and those with HFASD and no criminal histories. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 6(2), 949–957.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. King, C., & Murphy, G. H. (2014). A systematic review of people with autism spectrum disorder and the criminal justice system. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 44(11), 2717–2733.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  38. Lamb, H. R., Weinberger, L. E., & DeCuir, W. J. Jr. (2002). The police and mental health. Psychiatric Services, 53(10), 1266–1271.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  39. Lawton, M. P., Moss, M., Hoffman, C., et al. (2000). Two transitions in daughters’ caregiving careers. The Gerontologist, 40(4), 437–448.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  40. Lecavalier, L. (2006). Behavioral and emotional problems in young people with pervasive developmental disorders: Relative prevalence, effects of subject characteristics, and empirical classification. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 36, 1101–1114.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  41. Levy, S. E., Giarelli, E., Lee, L. C., Schieve, L. A., Kirby, R. S., Cunniff, C., & Rice, C. E. (2010). Autism spectrum disorder and co-occurring developmental, psychiatric, and medical conditions among children in multiple populations of the United States. Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, 31(4), 267–275.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. Livingston, J. D. (2016). Contact between police and people with mental disorders: A review of rates. Psychiatric Services, 67(8), 850–857.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  43. Lunsky, Y., Paquette-Smith, M., Weiss, J. A., & Lee, J. (2015). Predictors of emergency service use in adolescents and adults with autism spectrum disorder living with family. Emergency Medicine Journal, 32(10), 787–792.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  44. Mandell, D. S. (2008). Psychiatric hospitalization among children with autism spectrum disorders. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 38(6), 1059–1065.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  45. Matson, J. L., & Rivet, T. T. (2008). Characteristics of challenging behaviours in adults with autistic disorder, PDD-NOS, and intellectual disability. Journal of Intellectual and Developmental Disability, 33(4), 323–329.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  46. Mayes, T. A. (2003). Persons with autism and criminal justice core concepts and leading cases. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 5(2), 92–100.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  47. Mazurek, M. O., Kanne, S. M., & Wodka, E. L. (2013). Physical aggression in children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 7(3), 455–465.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  48. McAra, L., & McVie, S. (2005). The usual suspects? Street-life, young offenders, and the police. Criminal Justice, 5, 5–35.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  49. Miller, K. (2008). Police stops, pretext, and racial profiling: Explaining warning and ticket stops using citizen self reports. Journal of Ethnicity in Criminal Justice, 6, 123–149.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  50. Molteni, S., Carbon, M., Lops, J., Soto, E. C., Cervesi, C., Sheridan, E. M., & Foley, C. (2016). Correlates of subjective caregiver strain in caregivers of youth evaluated in a pediatric psychiatric emergency room. Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology. doi:10.1089/cap.2015.0028.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  51. Montes, G., & Halterman, J. S. (2007). Psychological functioning and coping among mothers of children with autism: A population-based study. Pediatrics, 119(5), e1040–e1046.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  52. Mouridsen, S. E. (2012). Current status of research on autism spectrum disorders and offending. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 6(1), 79–86.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  53. Naglieri, J. A., & Chambers, K. M. (2009). Psychometric issues and current scales for assessing autism spectrum disorders. In S. Goldstein, J. A. Naglieri & S. Ozonoff (Eds.), Assessment of autism spectrum disorders (pp. 5–90). New York: Guilford.

    Google Scholar 

  54. Patch, P., & Arrigo, B. (1999). Police officer attitudes and use of discretion in situations involving the mentally ill: The need to narrow the focus. International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, 22(1), 23–35.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  55. Perneger, T. V. (1998). What’s wrong with Bonferroni adjustments. BMJ, 316(7139), 1236–1238.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  56. Pruchno, R. A., & McMullen, W. F. (2004). Patterns of service utilization by adults with a developmental disability: Type of service makes a difference. American Journal on Mental Retardation, 109(5), 362–378.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  57. Rava, J., Shattuck, P., Rast, J., & Roux, A. (2017). The prevalence and correlates of involvement in the criminal justice system among youth on the autism spectrum. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 47(2), 340–346.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  58. Robinson, S., Weiss, J. A., Lunsky, Y., & Ouellette-Kuntz, H. (2016). Informal support and burden among parents of adults with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities. Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities, 29(4), 356–365.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  59. Rosenfeld, R., Rojek, J., & Decker, S. (2012). Age matters: Race differences in police searches of young and older male drivers. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 49(1), 31–55.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  60. Rutter, M., Bailey, A., & Lord, C. (2003). The social communication questionnaire: Manual. Torrance: Western Psychological Services.

    Google Scholar 

  61. Ryan, J. P., & Yang, H. (2005). Family contact and recidivism: A longitudinal study of adjudicated delinquents in residential care. Social Work Research, 29(1), 31–39.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  62. Salseda, L. M., Dixon, D. R., Fass, T., Miora, D., & Leark, R. A. (2011). An evaluation of Miranda rights and interrogation in autism spectrum disorders. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 5(1), 79–85.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  63. Schieve, L. A., Gonzalez, V., Boulet, S. L., et al. (2012). Concurrent medical conditions and health care use and needs among children with learning and behavioral developmental disabilities, national health interview survey, 2006–2010. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 33(2), 467–476.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  64. Sevlever, M., Roth, M. E., & Gillis, J. M. (2013). Sexual abuse and offending in autism spectrum disorders. Sexuality and Disability, 31(2), 189–200.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  65. Shattuck, P., Wagner, M., Narendorf, S., Sterzing, P., & Hensley, M. (2011). Post-high school service use among young adults with an autism spectrum disorder. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 165(2), 141–146.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  66. Short, T. B., MacDonald, C., Luebbers, S., Ogloff, J. R., & Thomas, S. D. (2014). The nature of police involvement in mental health transfers. Police Practice and Research, 15(4), 336–348.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  67. Statistics Canada (2006). Census forward sortation area. Ottawa, ON: Geography Division.

    Google Scholar 

  68. Steffensmeier, D., & Allan, E. (1996). Gender and crime: Toward a gendered theory of female offending. Annual Review of Sociology, 22(1), 459–487.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  69. Sterzing, P. R., Shattuck, P. T., Narendorf, S. C., Wagner, M., & Cooper, B. P. (2012). Bullying involvement and autism spectrum disorders: Prevalence and correlates of bullying involvement among adolescents with an autism spectrum disorder. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, 166(11), 1058–1064.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  70. Theriot, M. T., & Segal, S. P. (2005). Involvement with the criminal justice system among new clients at outpatient mental health agencies. Psychiatric Services, 56(2), 179–185.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  71. Turcotte, P., Mathew, M., Shea, L. L., Brusilovskiy, E., & Nonnemacher, S. L. (2016). Service needs across the lifespan for individuals with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 46(7), 2480–2489.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  72. Vermeiren, R., Jespers, I., & Moffitt, T. (2006). Mental health problems in juvenile justice populations. Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 15(2), 333–351.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  73. White, S. E., McMorris, C., Weiss, J. A., et al. (2012). The experience of crisis in families of individuals with autism spectrum disorder across the lifespan. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 21(3), 457–465.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  74. Williams, K., Rivera, L., Neighbours, R., & Reznik, V. (2007). Youth violence prevention comes of age: Research, training and future directions. Annual Review of Public Health, 28, 195–211.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  75. Witwer, A. N., & Lecavalier, L. (2007). Autism screening tools: An evaluation of the social communication questionnaire and the developmental behaviour checklist-autism screening algorithm. Journal of Intellectual & Developmental Disability, 32(3), 179–187.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  76. Woodbury-Smith, M., & Dein, K. (2014). Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and unlawful behaviour: Where do we go from here? Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 44(11), 2734–2741.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  77. Woodbury-Smith, M. R., Clare, I. C., Holland, A. J., Kearns, A., Staufenberg, E., & Watson, P. (2005). A case-control study of offenders with high functioning autistic spectrum disorders. Journal of Forensic Psychiatry & Psychology, 16(4), 747–763.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  78. Zablotsky, B., Anderson, C., & Law, P. (2013). The association between child autism symptomatology, maternal quality of life, and risk for depression. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 43(8), 1946–1955.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgments

This research was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research [MOP 102677]. Dr. Weiss is supported by the Chair in ASD Treatment and Care Research (Canadian Institutes of Health Research #284208 in partnership with NeuroDevNet, Sinneave Family Foundation, CASDA, Autism Speaks Canada, and Health Canada). The authors would like to thank all of the families for their time and participation.

Author Contributions

YL, JAW, AMP and EB were the primary creators of the concept and design of this study. The analytic approach was created by YL and AT. AT and YL were responsible for creating the first draft and integrating all co-author input. All co-authors contributed substantively to the interpretation of the results and to draft revisions, and have approved the final version of the manuscript.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Yona Lunsky.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Tint, A., Palucka, A.M., Bradley, E. et al. Correlates of Police Involvement Among Adolescents and Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder. J Autism Dev Disord 47, 2639–2647 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-017-3182-5

Download citation

Keywords

  • Police
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Criminal justice system
  • Victimization