International Meeting for Autism Research (London, May 15-17, 2008): AUTISM AND DELINQUENCY


Thursday, May 15, 2008
Champagne Terrace/Bordeaux (Novotel London West)
11:30 AM
A. Van der Reijken , Centrum Autisme, Oegstgeest, Netherlands
I. A. Van Berckelaer-Onnes , Social and Behavioural Sciences, Leiden University, Leiden, Netherlands

In the last 15 years an increasing number of papers have been published about autism in relation to delinquent behaviour. Several of these concern case histories, others concern incidence searches. The question arises whether people with autism are prone to delinquent behaviour.


To find out whether people with autism run the risk of delinquency and whether certain autism-specific characteristics are more likely to lead to delinquent behaviour than others.


N=14 study. All the cases were referred to one of the authors, who acted as an expert witness in their court cases. The cases were analysed in eight areas, i.e. type of delinquent behaviour, age at the moment this behaviour started, age when the patient was diagnosed, comorbid disorders, intelligence, demographic data, concomitant circumstances and deviant behaviours shown before the committed offence. In addition, cases described in literature are compared with our group.


Violence, sexually deviant behaviour and stalking are the most frequently committed crimes in this group. Only a few cases were diagnosed with autism before the crime, although they all displayed all sorts of behavioural problems long before they were arrested. Sexual crimes and stalking seem to be the result of a combination of obsessive behaviour and social shortcomings. These individuals do not know how to satisfy their sexual needs. Violence is often the result of panic and/or obsessions.


Although the number of cases is very small, the results of this study are promising. Research of more cases is needed to value the results found and to give guidelines for prevention.