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Saturday, October 28, 2006

'No link' between autism and crime

The National Autistic Society has said there is no link between autism, including Asperger Syndrome, and crime - and there was no evidence to suggest people with autism were more likely to break the law than any member of the public.

In a statement, the society said: "In fact, in many cases individuals are unusually concerned to keep to the letter of the law. A person with autism will have individual personality traits and facets to their character, just like any other person, that make up who they are and determine their actions."

It said the syndrome was a form of autism that was a lifelong development disability which affected people in different ways and affected their social and communication skills.

It said there was concern that people with autism may be more vulnerable to criminal acts against them because of their social difficulties.

A charity providing support to people with autism has said Asperger Syndrome sufferers are not likely to be violent.

Lisa Perks, chief executive of the Sussex Autistic Society, said: "It is not common for someone with Asperger Syndrome that they will stab people. It is certainly not typical behaviour that someone with autism is violent."

She said service provision needed to catch up with the increase in diagnoses seen over the last few years.

Specialist schools did not suit all children with autism and support for people with the condition was determined on an individual basis, she said.

A mother of a child with autism was concerned by press coverage of the Shane Freer court case which she said has given people with the condition a reputation as criminals.

The woman, who did not want to be named, said great damage had been done.
"People on the autistic spectrum have enough difficulties to face without adding further public prejudice caused by ignorance and fear of their condition."

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