Adolescent sex offenders with autism spectrum conditions: currently used treatment approaches and their impact

Journal article

Schnitzer, G., Terry, R. and Joscelyne, T. 2019. Adolescent sex offenders with autism spectrum conditions: currently used treatment approaches and their impact. The Journal of Forensic Psychiatry & Psychology.
AuthorsSchnitzer, G., Terry, R. and Joscelyne, T.

Aims: Offending behaviour in adolescents with autism spectrum conditions (ASC) is rare. However, some theoretical links have been drawn between sexual offending and autism-typical deficits. Although research in this area is scarce, case-studies have begun to evaluate the impact of treatments for juvenile sexual offenders with ASC. This review aimed to summarise the available treatments for this group and their impact on young people (YP).

Methods: A systematic literature review was conducted. Six online data-bases were searched for studies detailing interventions with adolescent sexual offenders with ASC.

Results: Six case-studies were reviewed. Interventions consisted of detailed assessments, staff training, peer support, medication, and adapted cognitive- behavioural therapy. One case-study used narrative techniques. Only two studies reported on objective and measurable treatment effects whilst the remainder relied solely on anecdotal evidence. Studies presenting quantitative data found a decrease in sexual arousal, absconding, sexually harmful/inappropriate behaviour, and masturbation to deviant fantasies. Anecdotal evidence pointed to increased insight, flexibility, ability to open-up, and reintegration. The overall quality of studies was low with one exception. Research and clinical implications are discussed.

Conclusions: Whilst some benefitted from the currently used treatment options, results cannot be generalised due to methodological flaws.

KeywordsAutism spectrum condition; adolescent; sex offender; treatment
JournalThe Journal of Forensic Psychiatry & Psychology
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Publication dates
Online28 Aug 2019
Publication process dates
Deposited05 Sep 2019
Submitted17 Sep 2018
Accepted20 Aug 2019
Accepted author manuscript
Output statusPublished

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