Staff’s experiences of individuals with autism in care and criminal justice settings

Burch, Eleanor Lindsey (2019). Staff’s experiences of individuals with autism in care and criminal justice settings. University of Birmingham. Foren.Clin.Psy.D.

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Background: Research suggests that individuals with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) are inconsistently supported throughout the criminal justice system (CJS) in the UK. Lord Bradley (2009) recommended the introduction of criminal justice liaison and diversion (L&D) teams to bridge the gap between the CJS and mental health services and provide a more consistent and improved quality of support for individuals with vulnerabilities, including those with autism. This research aims to explore the experiences of staff working in liaison and diversion teams who encounter individuals with ASD.
Method: Interviews were conducted with ten L&D team members. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis was used to explore the experiential claims of participants and gain insight into their lived experiences of working with autism in the CJS.
Results: Interpretation of individual transcripts resulted in three super-ordinate themes: ‘feeling helpless and helpful in the system’, ‘transition to knowing’, and ‘impact on self’. Each theme encapsulated a number of sub-themes depicting the limitations of services, difficult environments, making a difference, lack of understanding, developing understanding and the impact of these experiences on staff’s confidence, attitudes and well-being.
Conclusion: This research highlights the limitations of services available for individuals with autism, and the widespread lack of autism awareness. These concerns directly impacted participants’ confidence, attitudes and well-being. Recommendations are proposed to guide future practice and research including increasing availability of access to ASD services, enforcing mandatory autism specific training for staff and routinely collecting service user feedback.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Foren.Clin.Psy.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Foren.Clin.Psy.D.
Licence: All rights reserved All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
School or Department: School of Psychology
Funders: Other
Other Funders: St Andrew’s Healthcare
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology


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