The experiences of autistic people within the family justice system will be the focus of new research by barrister Dr Rob George and psychologist Dr Anna Remington.
The pair plan to explore the perspectives of people with autism who have been caught up in legal cases, and then use this information to draw up practice guidance for professionals on how best to meet their needs.
Dr George is a barrister at Harcourt Chambers while Dr Remington works at the University College London Institute of Education.
Writing in the March edition of Family Law, Dr George explained:
“Autistic people comprise around one per cent of the population, yet there is minimal knowledge about their treatment by the court system or how their condition may affect their access to justice. This is concerning, as many aspects of autism (such as inability to decode non-verbal cues or to understand non-literal language and subtext) render individuals with the condition vulnerable to being taken advantage of in negotiation or dispute settings. In addition, a departure from daily routine and lack of control of the situation can cause autistic individuals a great deal of distress.”
The researchers welcome participation and feedback from both autistic people with experience of the family law system and from lawyers and legal professionals with have dealt with clients and litigants with the condition. They are interested in both positive and negative experiences, as well as any strategies that could help others.