Search This Blog

Saturday, April 21, 2012


People with autism and other disabilities are disproportionately likely to be victims of crime.  What happens when they testify? See Katie L. Maras and Dermot M. Bowler,"Eyewitness Testimony in Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Review," Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, published online March 12, 2012.  The abstract:
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is estimated to affect around 1% of the population, and is characterised by impairments in social interaction, communication, and behavioural flexibility. A number of risk factors indicate that individuals with ASD may become victims or witnesses of crimes. In addition to their social and communication deficits, people with ASD also have very specific memory problems, which impacts on their abilities to recall eyewitnessed events. We begin this review with an overview of the memory difficulties that are experienced by individuals with ASD, before discussing the studies that have specifically examined eyewitness testimony in this group and the implications for investigative practice. Finally, we outline related areas that would be particularly fruitful for future research to explore.
From the text:
From the rather sparse work that has explored eyewitness testimony in ASD to date, it seems that high-functioning witnesses with ASD are capable of providing reliable testimony and are no more suggestible than their typical counterparts, but that the currently recommended police interviewing technique (the CI) is unsuitable for them. Once additional research has replicated and extended this work, it will be important to ensure that findings appropriately inform investigative practice.