Autism spectrum disorder: Forensic issues and challenges for mental health professionals and courts

Ian Freckelton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)


Autism spectrum disorder (ASD), as defined in DSM-V, can be relevant in a variety of ways to decision-making by courts and tribunals. This includes the family, disciplinary, discrimination and criminal law contexts. By reviewing decisions made by superior courts in a number of common law jurisdictions, this article identifies a pivotal role for mental health professionals closely familiar with both the disorder and forensic exigencies to educate courts about the inner world of those with ASD. Highlighting areas of criminality that court decisions have dealt with, especially in relation to persons with Asperger's Disorder, as defined by DSM-IV, it calls for further research on the connection between ASD, on the one hand, and conduct, capacities and skills, on the other hand. It urges enhancement of awareness of the forensic repercussions of the disorder so that expert evidence can assist the courts more humanely and informedly to make criminal justice and other decisions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)420-434
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Asperger's Disorder
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Autistic psychopathy
  • Criminal law
  • Disciplinary law
  • Discrimination
  • DSM-V
  • Family law
  • Forensic issues
  • Psychopathy
  • Sentencing
  • Therapeutic jurisprudence

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