Asperger syndrome and offending behaviour
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Asperger syndrome and offending behaviour

Laura Burdon Deputy unit nurse manager, St Andrew’s Healthcare, Northampton
Geoff Dickens Research nurse and visiting lecturer, St Andrew’s Academic Centre Research Team, Kings College London Institute of Psychiatry, Northampton

Laura Burdon and Geoff Dickens discuss the difficulties faced by people with Asperger syndome in the criminal justice system

People with a learning disability are disproportionately over-represented in UK prisons and sometimes may not receive appropriate care and treatment. The Bradley Report has highlighted the need for improved co-ordination between the criminal justice system and learning disability and mental health services, including better education for criminal justice staff, earlier assessment and jointly planned services.

This article looks at the example of Asperger syndrome. The characteristics of this can include ‘theory of mind’ deficits, in which people with the syndrome do not understand that other people have minds of their own and hold different beliefs. This is particularly relevant to offending behaviour in this group of people. The difficulties faced by people with Asperger syndrome in the criminal justice system are identified and some key elements of assessment and management of offenders with the condition in a specialist inpatient learning disability service are illustrated using a case study.

Learning Disability Practice. 12, 9, 14-20. doi: 10.7748/ldp2009.

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