Unlawful Behaviors in Adolescents and Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders



Adolescents and adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may come into contact with the criminal justice system (CJS) as victims, witnesses, or perpetrators of alleged criminal activity. It is crucial, therefore, that the CJS is able to respond appropriately when faced with such an individual, who may, if higher functioning, appear to all intents and purpose “normal.” It is equally crucial that carers, families, and health professionals have an understanding of the factors that may lead to CJS involvement such that strategies can be put in place to reduce the risk of unlawful behavior. Whilst it is certainly true that people with ASD are vulnerable to being a victim of crime, much of the literature has been concerned with the risks of perpetration. This is driven, in part at least, by the potentially far reaching consequences for the individual who is accused of a crime. As will be discussed subsequently, despite the lack of clear scientific data regarding the epidemiology and etiology of unlawful behavior among people with ASD, many different factors related to the autism phenotype can theoretically impact on risk, and an understanding of these factors can reduce this risk. Understanding these risk factors can also inform the rehabilitation needs of such individuals, who may not necessarily benefit form the generic forensic mental health services. Moreover, for those already in the CJS, much can be done to ensure that their vulnerability is recognized and managed accordingly.


Autism Spectrum Disorder Autism Spectrum Disorder Criminal Justice System Asperger Syndrome Obsessive Compulsive Disorder 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



I would like to thank the Wellcome Trust and Department of Health (UK) for their support in funding my research on unlawful behavior among people with ASD.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.McMaster UniversityHamiltonCanada

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