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Asperger syndrome and arson: a case study

Jane Radley (Consultant Psychiatrist, based at St Andrew's Healthcare, Northampton, UK)
Zakia Shaherbano (Speciality Doctor, based at St Andrew's Healthcare, Northampton, UK)

Advances in Mental Health and Intellectual Disabilities

ISSN: 2044-1282

Article publication date: 17 November 2011




People with autistic spectrum disorders (ASD) may offend as a result of social skills deficits, co‐morbid mental health problems, abuse of drugs and alcohol, or because of their special interests. The purpose of this paper is to illustrate these issues by describing a patient in whom all of these factors contributed to fire‐setting behaviour.


This paper briefly summarises the literature in relation to ASD and offending, then describes the case of a young man with Asperger syndrome who set a fire in his home.


The paper concludes that late diagnosis and the consequent lack of intervention may increase the risk of offending. Adults with ASD who offend can benefit from treatment in specialist secure units and the prognosis following such treatment may be good.


The paper highlights the risk of offending in people with ASD, the factors which may contribute to offending, and possible approaches to treatment.



Radley, J. and Shaherbano, Z. (2011), "Asperger syndrome and arson: a case study", Advances in Mental Health and Intellectual Disabilities, Vol. 5 No. 6, pp. 32-36.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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