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Last Updated: Friday, 23 February 2007, 11:33 GMT
'Autism link' to Asbo youngsters
Teenagers
The charity said the findings raised questions about Asbo policy
More than a third of children given Asbos have underlying brain disorders such as autism, according to a survey.

The study was carried out for the BBC with the Somerset charity for brain-injured children, Bibic.

It suggests that many youngsters are being given an Asbo without having their diagnosis taken into account.

Nearly 37% of youngsters in the sample of youth offending teams questioned were found to have conditions such as autism, ADHD and a low learning age.

A number of Youth Offending Teams (YOTs) - who support the children after they receive Asbos - were questioned in the survey.

Some 38% who responded said that out of 345 of their clients, 127 had brain disorders.

'Disservice to society

Bibic (British Institute for Brain Injured Children) said their medical conditions made them less likely to understand they were doing wrong.

Spokeswoman Vivienne Howard said: "There are numerous young people out there whose underlying learning difficulties are not being recognised," she said.

"And we're doing a disservice to society by putting these children on a route which sends them towards the criminal justice system and possibly into custody.

Karen Jones' two teenage sons are facing Asbos for jumping over neighbours' gardens. One of them is autistic and one has ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder).

Ms Jones said: "I think it's unfair because there's a lot of help available for children with ADHD or Aspergers after they've offended.

I think it's very dispiriting, but it doesn't come as a surprise.
Juliet Lyon, Prison Reform Trust

"I can't understand why they can't have that help before they offend, I just feel they're being set up to do wrong."

Director of the Prison Reform Trust, Juliet Lyon, said: "I think it's very dispiriting, but it doesn't come as a surprise.

"We've done work in prisons and released a study showing how many people with learning difficulties end up in the prison system. There are 6,000 with low IQs."

Amanda Batten, from the National Autistic Society (NAS) said: "The NAS has highlighted its concerns to the Home Office regarding the potential for people with autism or Asperger syndrome to be inappropriately penalised under its anti-social behaviour policy.

"The NAS believes that it is the responsibility of the Home Office, in line with recent disability discrimination law, to monitor the impact of their policies and take proactive steps to ensure that disabled people, including those with autism and their families, are not disadvantaged."

A statement from the Home Office said it offered clear guidance on dealing with vulnerable youngsters who behaved in anti-social ways.

It said it had invited charities such as Bibic to let it know of specific cases and no cases had come forward.




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