Case study of man with Asperger syndrome highlights impact of late diagnosis and lack of intervention on risk of offending


This paper describes a case study of a young man with Asperger syndrome who set a fire in his home.

The authors point out that offences may be committed by people with autistic spectrum disorders because of deficits in social skills, co-morbid mental health problems or abuse of drugs and alcohol. There may also be links with their particular special interests.

In relation to the case study, they found that each of these issues contributed to the fire-setting behaviour.

In addition to the case study, the authors also briefly summarise the literature in relation to ASD and offending. From this review and the reflection on the case study, they conclude that late diagnosis and consequent lack of intervention can increase the risk of offending.

They suggest that adults with ASD who offend “can benefit from treatment in specialist secure units and the prognosis following such treatment may be good.”

Asperger syndrome and arson: a case study, Radley J & Shaherbano Z in Advances in Mental Health and Intellectual Disabilities 5,6, 32-36