And Justice for All, Unless You Have Autism: What the Legal System Needs to Know About People With Autism Spectrum Disorders

One goal of human services is that individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) do not become involved in legal and police related issues. However, when they do, providers and families need to inform police and legal systems personnel about the relevant features of ASD in a way that helps legal personnel understand the impact of ASD on thinking and behavior. The diagnostic features and their implications have a profound impact on the individual’s ability to be treated fairly and with understanding.

This presentation presents the relevant features of ASD and provides suggestions for service providers and families to prevent issues within the legal system through educational and training activities. Strategies are presented to assist families and staff in informing legal and criminal system personnel of relevant characteristics of ASD.

Participants will learn:

a brief review of the diagnostic characteristics of ASD
ways in which the effects of ASD can be described and understood
how the diagnostic characteristics can impact fair access to the legal system
the importance of a diagnosis of ASD in legal proceedings
why the features of ASD must be explained to professionals in the legal and criminal systems
some ways in which the features of autism spectrum disorders can affect legal proceedings
human services goals and activities to help prevent people with ASD from entering the legal and criminal system