Identification of service development needs for incarcerated adults with autism spectrum disorders in an Australian prison system [2019]

The purpose of this paper is to identify and deliberate the service development needs required for the improvement of service provision for incarcerated adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in NSW, Australia.

Consultation groups were conducted to bring together n=5 key stakeholders from heath and correctional-based services in the prison system. A facilitated asynchronous e-mail-based discussion occurred amongst group members between consultation group meetings.

Two main themes were identified: detecting persons with ASD and providing appropriate care. Participants discussed current service gaps with regard to the identification of people with ASD at the point of contact with the prison service, and the difficulties associated with diagnosing prisoners with ASD. The need for effective alert systems to detect persons with ASD in custody was identified. The current absence of ASD-specific support services in prison was highlighted, and recommendations for improvement suggested.

Practical implications
Current health and correctional-based service provision failed to adequately support incarcerated adults with ASD. Improvements in prison-entry screening processes, alert systems and diagnostic practices are required. Multidisciplinary collaboration between prison-based and external service providers is required for the development of a model of care based on individualised case management to adequately support incarcerated adults with ASD in prison.

Given the lack of reported service provision for incarcerated adults with ASD internationally, other prison-based services are likely to experience similar service development needs and see the relevance of the recommendations made directly from the study findings.

Claire Newman, Andrew Cashin, Iain Graham
International Journal of Prisoner Health, Vol. 15 Issue: 1, 2019