Forensic Risk Assessment and Autism

David Murphy

Cite this article as: CEPiP 2014;1:132-136

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The assessment of risk forms an integral component of risk management. The recent National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines for autism in adults recommend that an assessment of risk of harm to others should form part of a comprehensive diagnostic assessment. Although there is limited research examining risk assessment procedures within autism, existing risk assessment aids for interpersonal violence appear to have limited application. In the absence of any specific risk assessment aids for autism, the view held by many clinicians is that such assessments should be informed by an individual’s immediate environmental context, along with their cognitive, affective, sensory and emotional dysregulation difficulties associated with the condition, as well as any psychiatric co-morbidity, dysfunctional coping and decision-making strategies. The presence of any protective factors should also be examined, such as the introduction of any care management interventions. It is suggested that, whilst it is unlikely that any single risk assessment aid will capture all of the possible vulnerability factors and risk scenarios for an individual with autism, a set of good practice guidelines would be helpful for assessing and managing risk in this population.