Autism and the Courts

logo for Autism and the Courts program

The Autism and the Courts initiative is a statewide movement focused on reducing trauma and supporting individuals in the court system with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). According to the latest numbers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, now one in 36 Pennsylvania children and more than five million adults nationwide are diagnosed with autism.

In Pa. alone the number of autistic individuals receiving services from the state has more than doubled in recent years, and research shows that individuals on the spectrum are almost seven times more likely to come into contact with the justice system, often with adverse consequences.

Pennsylvania’s Courts are committed to ensuring that judicial professionals are prepared to recognize, accept and meet the needs of all court users and their families.

What is Autism?

Autism is a complex neurological condition that individuals are born with – it is not acquired, and individuals do not outgrow autism. People with autism can experience challenges in social, communication and behavioral development.

It’s important to note that it is not a mental illness and not an intellectual disability -- however those diagnoses can co‐exist.

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