Experiences of prison inmates with autism spectrum disorders and the knowledge and understanding of the spectrum amongst prison staff: a review

Clare Sarah Allely (Department of Psychology, School of Health Sciences, University of Salford, Salford, UK AND Gillberg Neuropsychiatry Centre, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden)

Journal of Intellectual Disabilities and Offending Behaviour

ISSN: 2050-8824

Publication date: 9 June 2015

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the research which has examined the link between autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) and offending behaviour and the impact of prison on individuals with ASDs. Studies suggest that inmates with ASDs may be at an increased risk of bullying, confrontations, exploitation, anxiety and social isolation as a result of their ASD traits such as obsessions, social naivety and impaired empathy.

Design/methodology/approach

An extensive review of the literature.

Findings

The review identifies a modest amount of studies (n=4) which have explored the experience of individuals with ASD in prison and highlights that inmates with ASDs face a multitude of problems when they enter prison. Despite an extensive literature search only one study was identified which investigated the knowledge and understanding of ASDs amongst prison staff.

Research limitations/implications

Further research is urgently needed to consider the specific problems faced by inmates with ASD, to identify how to make the prison environment safer and more supportive for inmates with ASD and how to reduce the likelihood of re-offending.

Practical implications

This review highlights that, to date, there has been relatively little to guide service design in order to develop support services for individuals with ASD in prison. There has been a scarcity of studies investigating the effectiveness of various treatment models to target offending behaviour in individuals with ASD.

Originality/value

This paper fulfils an identified need to study and identify the specific problems faced by inmates with ASD and to identify changes which are required to provide an environment in prison which is safer and more supportive.

Keywords

Citation

Allely, C. (2015), "Experiences of prison inmates with autism spectrum disorders and the knowledge and understanding of the spectrum amongst prison staff: a review", Journal of Intellectual Disabilities and Offending Behaviour, Vol. 6 No. 2, pp. 55-67. https://doi.org/10.1108/JIDOB-06-2015-0014

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Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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