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Causes and consequences of delayed diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder in forensic practice: a case series
Journal of Intellectual Disabilities and Offending Behaviour  (IF),  Pub Date : 2021-02-01, DOI: 10.1108/jidob-10-2020-0017
Michael C.F. Smith


The purpose of this paper is to highlight the difficulties in identifying adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and to illustrate the consequences of late diagnoses in forensic settings.


This paper presents an overview of the literature relevant to the topic and presents the details of three clinical cases.


Delayed diagnosis is not uncommon in forensic services. Cases may remain unidentified for considerable periods despite being under evaluation from clinical teams. Diagnosis in forensic settings is challenged by case complexity. Barriers to prompt diagnosis include time, resources and clinical competency. Timely diagnosis may lessen the risk of future offences, improves clinical risk management and can bring direct benefits to those with the condition.


This is the first case series which explores the issue of late diagnosis in forensic settings. The illustration of the extent to which a diagnosis can be missed may prompt clinicians to review and identify missed cases. The discussion of the issue may also support services to review their approach to screening and diagnosis of ASD.