Asperger's 'has no link to crime'
BBC Wales Health Correspondent
See BBC link:- http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/4755313.stm or
BBC OUCH!:- http://www.bbc.co.uk/ouch/news/
There is no direct link between Asperger's syndrome and criminal behaviour,
research in Wales shows. Several recent media reports have suggested the
syndrome as a cause of anti-social and threatening behaviour.
But the study of over a million people in Wales found "very little data" to
link the mild form of autism with criminal behaviour.
The syndrome can lead to people having communication problems or
understanding the consequences of their actions.
It affects as many as one in every 250 people.
"Asperger's syndrome can lead to communication difficulties"
Awareness of the syndrome has grown since the publication of novel The
Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon, which portrays
the life of a child growing up with the condition.
In January, an 18-year-old from Manchester claimed to suffer from the
syndrome when he was jailed for murdering a 10-year--old girl.
On the basis of our evidence there's very little data to support that
association between Asperger's syndrome and criminal behaviour
Professor David Allen
There was no medical evidence to suggest he was a sufferer.
A team led by Professor David Allen, of Bridgend-based Bro Morgannwg NHS
Trust, studied a population area of over a million people across south
Wales, to find whether those involved in criminal behaviour actually showed
characteristics of the syndrome.
Prof Allen said: "We've been to as many relevant services we could to see if
they were supporting people with Asperger's syndrome.
"We found very few people - only a group of just over 30 people - which
"On the basis of our evidence there's very little data to support that
association between Asperger's syndrome and criminal behaviour."
The research will be presented to an International Autism Conference in
Cardiff on Wednesday, hosted by Autism Cymru.
Clinical Psychologist Dr Tony Attwood, from Queensland, Australia said the
findings were important to inform the public.
Dr Attwood believes the criminal justice system should be better informed
"If there's a sensational case and Asperger's is involved the media will
automatically assume that everyone with Asperger's syndrome will commit that
type of offence - and that's not true," he said.
Dr Attwood also thinks the criminal justice system needs to be better
informed in how to deal with people living with Asperger's.
"When offences do occur, they need to be aware in terms of criminality,
sentencing and support for that person."
Mark Annis, a Penarth artist who has Asperger's syndrome.said the condition
has led to him being misunderstood.
"It does make life very difficult for me - it can get you into trouble
really," he said.
"People treat me as if I was at fault - they think they can ride roughshod
over me and get away with it."
The three-day conference has drawn specialists from across the world as well
as families who have experience of living with different forms of autism.
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