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      Autism spectrum disorders in high secure psychiatric care: a review of literature, future research and clinical directions


      Advances in Autism

      Emerald Publishing

      Autism spectrum disorder, Asperger’s syndrome, High secure psychiatric care

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          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.


          A review of the published literature.


          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.

          Practical implications

          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.

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          Most cited references 90

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          Intellectual disability and its relationship to autism spectrum disorders.

          Intellectual disability (ID) and autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) covary at very high rates. Similarly, greater severity of one of these two disorders appears to have effects on the other disorder on a host of factors. A good deal of research has appeared on the topic with respect to nosology, prevalence, adaptive functioning, challenging behaviors, and comorbid psychopathology. The purpose of this paper was to provide a critical review and status report on the research published on these topics. Current status and future directions for better understanding these two covarying disorders was reviewed along with a discussion of relevant strengths and weaknesses of the current body of research.
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            The role of emotion regulation in autism spectrum disorder.

            Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is associated with amplified emotional responses and poor emotional control, but little is known about the underlying mechanisms. This article provides a conceptual and methodologic framework for understanding compromised emotion regulation (ER) in ASD. After defining ER and related constructs, methods to study ER were reviewed with special consideration on how to apply these approaches to ASD. Against the backdrop of cognitive characteristics in ASD and existing ER theories, available research was examined to identify likely contributors to emotional dysregulation in ASD. Little is currently known about ER in youth with ASD. Some mechanisms that contribute to poor ER in ASD may be shared with other clinical populations (e.g., physiologic arousal, degree of negative and positive affect, alterations in the amygdala and prefrontal cortex), whereas other mechanisms may be more unique to ASD (e.g., differences in information processing/perception, cognitive factors [e.g., rigidity], less goal-directed behavior and more disorganized emotion in ASD). Although assignment of concomitant psychiatric diagnoses is warranted in some cases, poor ER may be inherent in ASD and may provide a more parsimonious conceptualization for the many associated socioemotional and behavioral problems in this population. Further study of ER in youth with ASD may identify meaningful subgroups of patients and lead to more effective individualized treatments. Copyright © 2013 American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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              Is Open Access

              Autism risk factors: genes, environment, and gene-environment interactions

              The aim of this review is to summarize the key findings from genetic and epidemiological research, which show that autism is a complex disorder resulting from the combination of genetic and environmental factors. Remarkable advances in the knowledge of genetic causes of autism have resulted from the great efforts made in the field of genetics. The identification of specific alleles contributing to the autism spectrum has supplied important pieces for the autism puzzle. However, many questions remain unanswered, and new questions are raised by recent results. Moreover, given the amount of evidence supporting a significant contribution of environmental factors to autism risk, it is now clear that the search for environmental factors should be reinforced. One aspect of this search that has been neglected so far is the study of interactions between genes and environmental factors.

                Author and article information

                Advances in Autism
                Emerald Publishing
                18 February 2019
                06 January 2020
                : 6
                : 1
                : 17-34
                Department of Psychology, Broadmoor Hospital, Crowthorne, UK
                Department of Psychology, University of Salford , Salford, UK
                Author notes
                David Murphy can be contacted at:
                622496 AIA-10-2018-0044.pdf AIA-10-2018-0044
                © Emerald Publishing Limited
                Page count
                Figures: 0, Tables: 0, Equations: 0, References: 136, Pages: 18, Words: 11381
                review-article, General review
                cat-HSC, Health & social care
                cat-LID, Learning & intellectual disabilities
                Custom metadata


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