Obtaining Testimony from Autistic People

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Autistic individuals are arguably more likely to be interviewed within the Criminal Justice System (CJS) as a victim/witness or suspect, yet they experience specific episodic memory difficulties coupled with core social communication impairments. Language and communication are the currency of police interviews in order to elicit detailed memory of an event, and a recently accumulating body of research has found that autistic witnesses often recall less information and/or less accurately when interviewed under standard police interviewing procedures (there remains, however, a paucity of research on interviewing autistic police suspects). This chapter provides an overview of key differences in social communication and memory in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) that are relevant to obtaining testimony, before reviewing studies that have specifically examined eyewitness testimony in ASD. The effectiveness of different interviewing techniques will be discussed, before consideration is given to factors that may further impact their testimony, such as suggestibility and compliance. The implications of findings for other contexts such as police suspects and at court are also briefly considered before the chapter concludes by discussing practical issues and summarising the findings to date.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Autism Spectrum Disorder and the Law
Publication statusPublished - 23 Sept 2021


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