I came across this book when I was searching for more information on Autism Spectrum Disorder and sex crimes. Unfortunately, in the course of my work, we are seeing more and more individuals with ASD who are being arrested for sex crimes. I have been on a quest to make myself much more knowledgeable about the subject.
The book, The Autism Spectrum, Sexuality and the Law: What every parent and professional needs to know, is part personal narrative and part educational. It is co-authored by an induvial who was arrested for possession of child pornography as well as a psychologist who specializes in ASD and a therapist who specializes in sexuality and ASD.
The book starts with the story of the investigation of Nick by the Federal government. This part of the story is very familiar to me. I hear it often from my clients. The manner in which the FBI or Homeland Security enter a home and talk to the person under investigation is rather routine and unchanging. However, what was very interesting and new to me was to hear this story from the perspective of someone with ASD and how he was affected by the traditional police policies. The book then goes on to share Nick’s history and how he finally was diagnosed with ASD as an adult.
There are two chapters, one each, from Nick’s parents. Again, I hear this perspective at times from the family members of my clients but to hear it under the frame of ASD adds to the story. The pain of his parents is palpable and a pain, I imagine, many parents go through when their child is facing very serious consequences for very serious actions. As Nick’s father is a law professor, his chapter provides excellent resources from a legal perspective as well.
The subsequent chapters are written by professionals with the purpose to educate the reader about ASD, the symptoms and how those symptoms can predispose someone with ASD to troubles with the law. The final chapters also discuss the fact that most of the time nearly everyone, parents, teachers, etc, discount the fact that individuals with ASD are sexual beings. This means they are frequently not taught sexual education as non ASD children are. There is an assumption that they will not have the same desires. Obviously, this assumption is inaccurate. Frequently, when the education is not provided, they will turn to the same place we all turn to, the internet. Using the internet for sexual education is fraught with challenges for everyone and even more so for individuals with ASD due to some of their challenges with social interaction and theory of mind.
While I did not learn as much from this book as I was hoping, I still believe it is an extremely useful resource. I can envision suggesting this book to the families of the individuals we work with who have family members with ASD whose behavior crosses legal boundaries and gets them involved with the criminal justice system.