Handbook of Autism Spectrum Disorder and the Law (Volkmar, Loftin, Westphal & Woodbury-Smith; 2021)

A collection of essays aimed at researchers, clinicians, graduate students and professionals in related fields. The book covers such topics as: people with autism as victims, witnesses and perpetrators of crime (including violence, stalking, sexual exploitation and cybercrime); key considerations for attorneys; alternative approaches for first responders involving individuals with autism; legal assessment issues (including witness protection and postconviction diagnoses); and legal outcomes (including case law, prevention, service provisions in correctional settings and rights and support systems).

Autism and the criminal justice system: An analysis of 93 cases (Slavny-Cross, Allison, Griffiths & Baron-Cohen; 2022)

An investigation into the extent to which autism-related vulnerabilities are taken into account at each stage of the criminal justice system. They find, for example, that among the cases studied, 59% of prosecution barristers and 46% of judges said or did something during the trial that suggested they lacked an adequate understanding of autism. The researchers also found that, compared with their non-autistic clients, lawyers were 7.58 times more likely to worry about their autistic clients’ effective participation in court and 3.83 times more likely to worry that their autistic clients would self‐harm.

A Scoping Review of Autism Spectrum Disorder and the Criminal Justice System (Railey, Love & Campbell; 2019)

Some of the findings of this review include: the prevalence of individuals with autism ranged from 0.3% to 27% in the criminal justice settings studied; autistic individuals may interact with the criminal justice system as either victims or perpetrators, with the most common calls to law enforcement officers involving elopement, aggression or medical emergency; perceptions of the criminal justice system by the autism community were marked by reports of lack of knowledge of autism, stigma and calls for more training; law enforcement officers also frequently expressed a need for more training around characteristics of autism and how to respond appropriately.

A Systematic Review of People with Autism Spectrum Disorder and the Criminal Justice System (King & Murphy; 2014)

On the basis of research that had been performed up until 2014, this paper tentatively concludes that people with autism are not over-represented in the criminal justice system, while also highlighting the poor quality of much of the relevant literature available at that time.

Personal experiences of the Criminal Justice System by individuals with autism spectrum disorders (Helverschou, Steindal, Nøttestad & Howlin; 2018)

Interviews with nine offenders on their experiences with the Norwegian criminal justice system. We include it here partly to illustrate the benefits to both offenders and wider society that are possible when the right systems are put in place.

Autism Spectrum Disorder, Developmental Disabilities, and the Criminal Justice System (Dubin; 2021)

A brutally honest book exploring how autistic traits can lead to legal issues, advocating for understanding and preventive measures. Dubin recommends strategies for avoiding criminal entanglement and ensuring fair treatment in the justice system, drawing from firsthand experience and an extensive review of the existing literature.

AND JUSTICE FOR ALL… UNLESS YOU HAVE AUTISM What the Legal System Needs to Know About People With Autism Spectrum Disorder (Doyle & Iland; 2016)

Based on decades of personal and professional experience, sisters Doyle and Iland emphasize the importance of understanding autism within the legal system. They outline how characteristics of autism can affect interactions with law enforcement and judicial proceedings, offering suggestions for effectively communicating these challenges to ensure fair treatment. Key points include the relevance of autism diagnoses in legal contexts, the necessity of educating police and legal personnel about autism and the advocacy for alternative interventions over traditional punitive measures to better support autistic individuals involved in legal issues.

Understanding Other Minds: Perspectives from Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience (Baron-Cohen, Tager-Flusberg & Cohen; 2000)

A foundational text in exploring how humans develop a ‘theory of mind’: the ability to understand and infer the thoughts, feelings and intentions of others. It serves as an essential sourcebook for researchers, clinicians and scholars in psychology, psychiatry and neuroscience who are interested in the differences between how a theory of mind is developed in neurotypical vs. neurodiverse minds.

Adam (Hugh Dancy & Rose Byrne; 2009)

A film about the relationship between a man with autism and his neighbor in which the man’s innocent behaviors are often misinterpreted by others. 

About the Law and Psychiatry Division at Yale (Yale University; 2023)

The Division of Law and Psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine has faculty with expertise in the assessment of autistic people in the forensic/legal context.