Organization for Autism Research

Miranda Rights and Autism Spectrum Disorders


February 14th, 2011 | (0)


Every parent hopes to avoid interaction between the judicial system and their child.  Unfortunately, some of the social deficits associated with autism may make it more likely for people with ASD to encounter the criminal justice system at some point.  While there is no greater likelihood for those with ASD to commit crimes, there is a greater chance that their interactions with the law may be misinterpreted.

Miranda rights are meant to keep individuals from incriminating themselves.  Past studies have shown that adolescents, people with intellectual disabilities, and people who have received special education services have a difficulty understanding Miranda rights.  Members of these groups are more likely to offer false confessions.  This data paired with the social deficits of ASD make people on the spectrum quit likely to have a difficult time understanding Miranda rights.

What can you do?  Teach your child or student how to interact with law enforcement.  Help them understand what to do if arrested or approached by law enforcement.  This is a worst case scenario that hopefully you will never need to address, but advance preparation makes for peace of mind.

Salseda, Lindsay M., Dixon Dennis R., Fass, Tracy, Miora, Deborah, and Leark, Robert A.  An evaluation of Miranda rights and interrogation in autism spectrum disorders. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders 5(1), 79-85.

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