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      The clinical utility of social information processing theory in assessing and treating offenders with autism spectrum disorder

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          Social deficits are central within conceptualisations of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and separately linked to offending behaviour. Social problem-solving interventions are often used with offenders, but little research has examined the social information processing (SIP) skills of individuals with ASD and a history of criminal offending behaviours. The paper aims to discuss this issue.


          This conceptual paper will introduce the SIP model, review SIP research as applied to those with ASD and in forensic populations, and further consider the relevance to the assessment and treatment of offenders with ASD.


          Difficulties in all areas of the SIP model are noted in ASD and research suggests these difficulties may be directly linked to behaviour.

          Practical implications

          It is possible that identifying SIP abilities and deficits could improve the effectiveness of rehabilitation programmes for this group.


          This paper reviews the utility of social information models in the offending behaviour of people with ASD.

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          Most cited references 108

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          The evolution of foresight: What is mental time travel, and is it unique to humans?

          In a dynamic world, mechanisms allowing prediction of future situations can provide a selective advantage. We suggest that memory systems differ in the degree of flexibility they offer for anticipatory behavior and put forward a corresponding taxonomy of prospection. The adaptive advantage of any memory system can only lie in what it contributes for future survival. The most flexible is episodic memory, which we suggest is part of a more general faculty of mental time travel that allows us not only to go back in time, but also to foresee, plan, and shape virtually any specific future event. We review comparative studies and find that, in spite of increased research in the area, there is as yet no convincing evidence for mental time travel in nonhuman animals. We submit that mental time travel is not an encapsulated cognitive system, but instead comprises several subsidiary mechanisms. A theater metaphor serves as an analogy for the kind of mechanisms required for effective mental time travel. We propose that future research should consider these mechanisms in addition to direct evidence of future-directed action. We maintain that the emergence of mental time travel in evolution was a crucial step towards our current success.
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            Visual Fixation Patterns During Viewing of Naturalistic Social Situations as Predictors of Social Competence in Individuals With Autism

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              Social information-processing mechanisms in reactive and proactive aggression.

              Theories of aggressive behavior and ethological observations in animals and children suggest the existence of distinct forms of reactive (hostile) and proactive (instrumental) aggression. Toward the validation of this distinction, groups of reactive aggressive, proactive aggressive, and nonaggressive children were identified (n = 624 9-12-year-olds). Social information-processing patterns were assessed in these groups by presenting hypothetical vignettes to subjects. 3 hypotheses were tested: (1) only the reactive-aggressive children would demonstrate hostile biases in their attributions of peers' intentions in provocation situations (because such biases are known to lead to reactive anger); (2) only proactive-aggressive children would evaluate aggression and its consequences in relatively positive ways (because proactive aggression is motivated by its expected external outcomes); and (3) proactive-aggressive children would select instrumental social goals rather than relational goals more often than nonaggressive children. All 3 hypotheses were at least partially supported.

                Author and article information

                Advances in Autism
                Emerald Publishing
                03 October 2016
                : 2
                Issue : 4 Issue title : Autism and offending behaviour Issue title : Autism and offending behaviour
                : 154-171
                Partnerships in Care Learning Disability Services, Norfolk, UK
                Tizard Centre, University of Kent , Canterbury, UK
                The Broadland Clinic, Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust , Norfolk, UK
                Author notes
                Verity Chester can be contacted at:
                586485 AIA-07-2016-0019.pdf AIA-07-2016-0019
                © Emerald Group Publishing Limited
                Page count
                Figures: 1, Tables: 0, Equations: 0, References: 122, Pages: 18, Words: 10946
                e-conceptual-paper, Conceptual paper
                cat-HSC, Health & social care
                cat-LID, Learning & intellectual disabilities
                Custom metadata


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