The Criminal Justice System’s Need for Better Understanding of Clients with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Recorded on December 8, 2021

Guest Speaker: Kim Spence, Ph.D.

Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) continue to become embroiled in tragic and often preventable circumstances necessitating intensive criminal justice involvement. This happens despite the exhaustive efforts of parents, educators, advocates, therapeutic providers, and professionals within the criminal justice system.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 45 adults in the United States are identified with ASD based on current estimates from the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network. This makes ASD one of the most frequently occurring developmental disabilities in the United States. 

While many states now require law enforcement professionals and members of the criminal justice system to receive annual training about ASD, these overviews are often inadequate and frequently fail to assist criminal justice personnel in understanding and supporting clients with ASD. Moreover, there is a significant lack of forensic personnel who understand ASD, leaving those on the spectrum at increased risk of victimization and ineffective rehabilitative programming.

In this webinar with Dr. Spence, a world-renown expert in the treatment and assessment of justice-involved people with autism, we examine the ways criminal justice systems fall short in ensuring the safety and effective rehabilitation of this vulnerable and challenging population. It’s a much-needed conversation that will shine light on how we can improve outcomes. 

Kim Spence, Ph.D.
Clinical Director, Autism Support Services for Specialized Treatment & Assessment Resources

Dr. Kim Spence is the Clinical Director of Autism Support Services for Specialized Treatment & Assessment Resources and has worked for the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (CARD) at the University of Central Florida (UCF) since 1999.  For the past 20 years she has lectured internationally regarding treatment supports, targeted therapeutic intervention, and the creation of specialized sexuality education programs for individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD).  Dr. Spence began providing sexuality education training for parents, teachers, and care providers of individuals with ASD in 2000 and has offered numerous trainings focused on the creation of specialized educational, social, and behavioral interventions to support healthy sexual knowledge for individuals with ASD across the life-span.  She has been training emergency responders, law enforcement personnel, and members of the criminal justice system since 2001 and serves as a consulting editor for the journal Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD) and on the editorial review board of the Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation (JVR).

Comments 2

    1. Post

      Hi, Marsha,

      Thank you for your interest in our upcoming Safer Talk webinar! We currently do not offer CE credits for these free webinars. We can, however, provide you with a Certificate of Attendance if you attend the entire live webinar.

      If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to reach us directly by emailing

      Thank you!

      Sarah Snow Haskell
      Director of Operations

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