Autism Spectrum Disorder Combined with Mental Retardation-An Indication for Molecular-Genetic Examination?

Author(s): Andreas Frei

Patients suffering from mental retardation have a smaller risk of becoming criminals than other people. This is, however, not true for violent crimes: The risk to be prosecuted for violent crime is said to be twice for men, for women it is even twelve times higher than for the average population. This risk is especially high when there is a comorbid psychiatric disorder as e.g. an autism spectrum disorder [1]. Contrary to the average population, the prevalence of aggression is equal for both sexes. Autistic children who are violent have a poor prognosis [2].

This report discusses the case of a young woman suffering from mental retardation and a comorbid autism spectrum disorder who committed a serious violent crime. Since the causes of mental retardation are usually genetically founded [3], I will - after having described the case report and the related diagnostic deliberations - ask questions about the limitations of the usual categorical-descriptive diagnosis, as is usual in current forensic-psychiatric practice.

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