autism and criminal justice system

NAS now provides an autism training package for the police. I wonder what this involves.

The NAS website covers Criminal Justice with a Position Statement and some links. The Position Statement mentions stress and meltdown in unfamiliar environments, vulnerability to others taking advantage, and having difficulty following procedures.

Encounters with the Criminal Justice System must be crucial for parents, as so many issues could arise. Tony Attwood looks at this quite effectively in his complete guide to asperger's syndrome (pages 334-240). He includes some individuals being manipulative and experimenting with social situations or other people's reactions out of obsessive curiosity who could get themselves into trouble with the law. Special interests can lead to problems, like an excessive interest in cars drawing police attention, and confused sexuality can get them into trouble. Computer obsessions have led to hacking.

There have been instances of arson, stemming from experimentation, or injury done to others out of fear of bullies. And of course there is the iossue of being let astray trying to gain approval from unsuitable others. There are a lot of possibilities. So good advice on the criminal justice system and the police is invaluable.

The NAS website lists over a hundred solictors around the country, but less than 20% specifically mention autism, and only three of these are in London, some in small provincial centres. Most refer to learning disability, special education needs or mental health. Surely there is more legal knowledge specific to autism.

The website has a link to the Toolkit 3 from The Advocate's Gateway, a resource for courts about autism produced by Lexicon in 2013. There is a lot of useful information here, but the examples are worrying. I don't think it helps as much as it should.

Section 2 covers areas of difficulty, very much led by the triad. The example of rigid behaviour is an adult witness with autism who was permitted to give evidence wearing a lion's tail, which was his 'comfort object' in daily life. I've tried to find out what court case, but it is just an example in similar law papers, without source. What image of autism does this create?

On sensory sensitivity: "smells (even something as 'minor' as flavoured crisps) or colours, fabrics or materials (eg a different kind of chair might be needed). "Taking a short break to allow the person to calm down may save time in the long run".

I can see what they are trying to explain, but they do seem to have somewhat misunderstood the issues, or else their rather prurient illustrations suggest they are not really taking autism seriously. Are their lordships really getting the right kind of information?

The whole state of affairs over the criminal justice system is worrying. So I do hope these training courses are up to the mark.

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