Understanding the Long-Term Impact that Imprisonment in Prisons has on Adults Diagnosed with a Specific Cognitive Neuro Diversity

Prof Doc Thesis


Banfield, T. 2022. Understanding the Long-Term Impact that Imprisonment in Prisons has on Adults Diagnosed with a Specific Cognitive Neuro Diversity. Prof Doc Thesis https://doi.org/10.48773/9wxy7
AuthorsBanfield, T.
TypeProf Doc Thesis
Qualification nameDoctor of Health and Social Care Practice
Abstract

The study aimed to answer the following questions.

• Is the true extent of prisoners, that are likely to be autistic in the prison at any one time, likely to be more than ten per cent?

• Do prisons currently have limited understanding of neurodiversity and its impact on offender engagement?

• Is differentiation needed within prison education to meet the needs of autistic offenders in order to rehabilitate with measurable outcomes?

• Do autistic offenders require specific differentiated engagement focusing on resilience, coping and wellbeing in order to be successfully rehabilitated?

• When offenders engage in interventions that have a focus on resilience, coping, and managing wellbeing, can reoffending reduce?

The study carried out a literature review, favouring a critical realist framework, explaining the effectiveness of rehabilitation of autistic offenders. The researcher designed and implemented The Support Change Project at HMP Her Majesty’s Prison in Dartmoor to establish operational value in differentiating rehabilitation interventions. Prisoners that are likely to be autistic in the prison, at any one time, is likely to be more than ten per cent. Prisons currently have limited understanding of neurodiversity and its impact on offender engagement; therefore, differentiation is needed within prison education to meet the needs of autistic offenders to rehabilitate. Autistic offenders require specific differentiated engagement focusing on resilience, coping and wellbeing. When offenders engage in interventions that have a focus on resilience, coping, and managing wellbeing, reoffending will reduce.

The project aimed to evaluate The Support Change Project, within HMP Dartmoor to develop and influence future policy and change. The study has a unique perspective as it was carried out by an autistic researcher, researching autistic offenders in prison, written for an autistic audience and reviewed by autistic professionals and prisoners.

The method involved carrying out DSM-5 Screening of offenders on arrival to HMP Dartmoor to identify if they met the threshold of autism. Strategy profiling was used to identify the offenders support needs. Cognitive assessments using WAIS tests were then deployed to show if an offender had what is described as a ‘spiky profile, (Doyle, 2017) containing strengths and weaknesses (Wechsler, 2008). The offenders engaged in group and one-to-one interventions. The support-focused sessions contained high levels of differentiation. The interventions had a focus on resilience, coping and wellbeing. Offenders were placed into intervention groups with similar support needs and strengths and the teaching material was adapted accordingly.

The study found that 18.8 per cent of offenders screened had autistic traits. Furthermore, all offenders in The Support Change Project had specific support needs. Each identified person has a typical spiky profile. The Research Group improved in resilience, coping and wellbeing whereas the Control Group remained the same. Attitudes towards reoffending improved in the Research Group. This study carried out a service and practice development within HMP Dartmoor and made an original contribution of knowledge in the specialist field of autism, for use in several criminal justice settings, both in the community and custody.

KeywordsAutistic; prisoner; neurodiversity; offender engagement; The Support Change Project
Year2022
PublisherCollege of Health, Psychology and Social Care (University of Derby)
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.48773/9wxy7
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Deposited10 Feb 2023
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https://repository.derby.ac.uk/item/9wxy7/understanding-the-long-term-impact-that-imprisonment-in-prisons-has-on-adults-diagnosed-with-a-specific-cognitive-neuro-diversity

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