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Crime and Autism Spectrum Disorder


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Table of Contents

1. Some Bad Guys. 2. Prevalence of Crime. 3. Behavioural Characteristics of ASD. 4. Criminal Vulnerability: Comorbid and Socio-Environmental Influences. 5. Criminal Vulnerability: ASD-Specific Influences. 6. ASD-Specific Influences: Case Studies. 7. Interactions with the Criminal Justice System. 8. Assessment and Intervention. 9. Future Directions. References.

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An examination of the cognitive, social and behavioural characteristics of people with ASD that may contribute to their involvement in criminal activity and to being disadvantaged in interactions with the criminal justice system

About the Author

Robyn L. Young is Associate Professor at the School of Psychology at Flinders University of South Australia. Her early research was concerned with Savant Syndrome, and this led her to begin researching Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Robyn, along with Neil Brewer, developed tools for early assessment (ADEC); she also developed an intervention package (SPECTRA), both of which are published and distributed by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER). She has provided numerous training workshops for professional bodies throughout Australia and overseas. More recently, Robyn has been heavily involved with the criminal justice system, providing many medico-legal reports and Fitness to Plead assessments for adults with ASD and appearing regularly as a witness for the court and as an expert witness.Neil Brewer is a Matthew Flinders Distinguished Professor at the School of Psychology at Flinders University of South Australia. He has worked in many areas of applied experimental psychology. During the late 1990s, Neil began to focus his research on the applications of psychology in the criminal justice realm. This research has had a particular emphasis on policing practices, especially with respect to the collection and interpretation of evidence from eyewitnesses to crimes. He has been heavily involved in conducting professional development programs across Australian states for judges and magistrates, police and prosecution and defence lawyers, and his research has been referenced in judgements in the United States and New York Supreme Courts, the United States Courts of Appeal (District of Columbia Circuit), and the Western Australia Court of Appeal. Neil also maintains an active presence in the area of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), collaborating with Robyn L. Young on research in areas such as face recognition and early detection.


The involvement of adolescents and adults with autism in the criminal justice system can be daunting for professionals and families who have limited experience or knowledge of how the system works. Fortunately, this excellent resource is extremely comprehensive and presents the main issues in all of their complexity yet in a way that is understandable for those without a legal background. Anyone dealing with criminal justice issues in ASD will appreciate this book and find it to be immensely interesting and informative. -- Gary B. Mesibov, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Psychiatry, University of North Carolina

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