The purpose of this paper is to review available literature targeting the assessment and management of individuals with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) admitted to high secure psychiatric care (HSPC). Key areas of examination include the prevalence of ASD in HSPC, how individuals with an ASD differ from other patient groups in clinical and cognitive characteristics, the views of staff regarding patients with an ASD, an exploration of the experiences and quality of life of patients with an ASD, as well as treatment and interventions.
Although individuals with an ASD comprise a relatively small proportion of the total HSPC cohort, they appear to be over represented relative to the general population prevalence. Several research projects suggest that individuals with an ASD present with difficulties and needs different to other patient groups, as well as being viewed by staff as potentially vulnerable and requiring a different care approach. Individuals with an ASD report both positive and negative aspects to life in HSPC.
Suggestions are made with regard to how individuals with an ASD might be better managed in HSPC. Following the spirit of various pieces of government legislation such as the Autism Act (2009) and the Equalities Act (2010) the role of a specialist ASD HSPC service is proposed.
This paper provides a detailed review of the research to date exploring the assessment and management of individuals with an ASD detained in HSPC. It outlines key research findings, highlights limitations with it and provides a personal perspective on future research and clinical targets.