Asperger Syndrome and perceived offending conduct: a qualitative study

Doctoral thesis English OPEN
Beardon, Luke

As a qualitative study using participant narrative as data this work includes both naturalist and constructivist traditions in analysis. The study examines interviews of fourteen individuals with a diagnosis of Asperger syndrome (AS) all of whom had been arrested. Interviews were conducted attempting to elicit the perception of the participants regarding the influencing factors around their behaviour that led to arrest. Each narrative was then assessed and data reconfigured using a thematic conceptual matrix; these were then analysed further for patterns and themes.\ud The study aimed to investigate whether the nature of each individual’s AS had an influencing factor on the behaviour leading to arrest and, if so, how. Once data had been analysed the study examined the legal issues involved, in particular the actus reus, mens rea, liability, recklessness and risk. The notions of automatism and insanity are examined in light of the data. The possibility of post traumatic stress disorder as a contributory factor to unlawful conduct is presented.\ud The study examines the possible AS specific and AS inferred elements that appear to have influenced behaviour in the case studies; recommendations for the Criminal Justice System (CJS) are expounded and the framework for a database presented.\ud The evidence from the study suggests that the legal framework may be discriminatory against people with AS in certain circumstances. Additionally, a lack of educational support in traditionally non curriculum subjects may increase the likelihood of individuals with AS behaving unlawfully. The study calls for increased support for individuals with AS and suggests that the provision of appropriate services will decrease both unlawful acts in the first instance, and recidivism in the second.
  • References (1)

    Szatmari, P., Archer, L., Fisman, S., Streiner, D., Wilson, F., (1995) Asperger's Syndrome and Autism: Differences in Behavior, Cognition, and Adaptive Functioning. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. 34(12):1662-1671

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