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Sexual offending and autism spectrum disorders

Journal of Intellectual Disabilities and Offending Behaviour

ISSN: 2050-8824

Article publication date: 14 March 2016




Studies have found innate vulnerabilities which potentially may increase the risk of an individual with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) finding themselves involved with the criminal justice system as a result of being charged with a sexual offence. The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the literature which has explored sexual offending in individuals with ASD.


A systematic PRISMA review (PRISMA, Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses) was conducted using internet-based bibliographic databases (PsycINFO, MEDLINE, Psychology and Behavioural Sciences Collection and PsycARTICLES) in order to access studies which investigated to any degree the association between ASD and sexual offending.


Only a small number of case reports (n=7) on sexual offending in individuals with ASD and a small number of prevalence studies (n=7) were identified.

Research limitations/implications

Research is urgently required to identify the specific requirements and needs of sexual offenders with ASD in order to inform an appropriate treatment strategy for successful outcomes.


Relatively few studies and reviews have investigated the area of ASD and sexual offending specifically.



Conflicts of Interest: the author(s) have no conflicts of interest to declare.

Funding: this project was not funded.


(2016), "Sexual offending and autism spectrum disorders", Journal of Intellectual Disabilities and Offending Behaviour, Vol. 7 No. 1, pp. 35-51.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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