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Characteristics of male autistic spectrum patients in low security: are they different from non‐autistic low secure patients?

Camilla Haw (Consultant Psychiatrist at the Men's Service, St Andrew's Healthcare, Northampton, UK and Professor of Mental Health Care at the University of Northampton, Northampton, UK)
Jane Radley (Consultant in Learning Disability Psychiatry at the Men's Service, St Andrew's Healthcare, Northampton, UK)
Louise Cooke (Specialty Doctor at St Andrew's Healthcare, Birmingham, UK)

Journal of Intellectual Disabilities and Offending Behaviour

ISSN: 2050-8824

Article publication date: 1 January 2013

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to describe the characteristics of adult male autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) patients admitted to low secure services and to compare them with non‐ASD patients.

Design/methodology/approach

Case‐control study of admissions to two ASD units and one non‐ASD unit at a tertiary referral centre. Subjects were compared on demographic, personal, clinical and offending behaviour variables.

Findings

In total, 51 ASD and 43 controls were studied. Median age at diagnosis of ASD was 21 years (range 6‐56). The ASD group were younger (median age 27 vs 33 years) and more likely to be single than controls. Their age at first contact with psychiatric services was lower and proportionally more were admitted from prison and courts. Almost three‐quarters had psychiatric comorbidity, most commonly schizophrenia, but unlike controls, personality disorder and drug and alcohol disorders were uncommon. Lifetime sexually inappropriate behaviour and physical violence were less common, as was non‐compliance with medication. However, 78 per cent had a lifetime history of physical violence and a third had a conviction for GBH or homicide. Offending behaviour was sometimes atypical in nature and some had convictions for unusual offences such as harassment and stalking.

Research limitations/implications

The age difference between cases and controls is likely to have confounded the results. Findings cannot be generalised to the NHS.

Originality/value

This group of ASD patients in low security differed in several important respects from their non‐ASD counterparts, which highlights their differing treatment needs, strengths and weaknesses.

Keywords

Citation

Haw, C., Radley, J. and Cooke, L. (2013), "Characteristics of male autistic spectrum patients in low security: are they different from non‐autistic low secure patients?", Journal of Intellectual Disabilities and Offending Behaviour, Vol. 4 No. 1/2, pp. 24-32. https://doi.org/10.1108/JIDOB-03-2013-0006

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited