The American Institute for the Advancement of Forensic Studies - Webinar

Distinguishing Features of Autism from Defiance: Understanding ASD in Custodial Settings    (MEMBERS ONLY)

Presented by Harmony Goorley

This webinar is only available to members
To purchase a membership or for more information on what membership includes, click here.
If you are already a member, please log in and go to your "My Account" page to view this Webinar for free.

Webinar Objectives:

  • Recognize key features of high functioning autism in the prisoner population.
  • Recognize how aspects of the built environment exacerbate features of autism.
  • Differentiate Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) from personality disorders.
  • Provide autism-specific intervention strategies for correctional staff.


With little research exploring the crossroads of autism and crime, and even less delving into the harsh realities of what happens when individuals on the spectrum are incarcerated, correctional facilities are left without guidelines for the effective management of prisoners with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The conduct of high functioning prisoners with ASD (formerly known as Asperger’s Syndrome) often confuse and frustrate correctional staff. Their symptomatic behavior is mistakenly perceived as unpredictable, insolent, and even hostile. Prisoners with ASD may receive frequent rule violations, have conflictual relationships with peers, resist traditional modes of correctional mental health treatment, and find little programming and vocational success while incarcerated. On the flipside, their social naiveté and limited coping skills make prisoners with ASD highly susceptible to exploitation and abuse from fellow prisoners. This webinar is designed to help attendees recognize key features of high functioning autism in the prisoner population, recognize what makes incarceration difficult for inmates with ASD, and differentiate expressions of ASD from antisocial conduct characteristic of personality disordered prisoners. Intervention strategies tailored to the needs of the autistic condition will also be provided for safe and effective population management. Attendees of this webinar will be able to incorporate this fund of knowledge into housing, treatment, programming, and vocational placement decisions.

A post-test, handout, and certificate of completion will be provided upon completion of this one-hour webinar.

Presenter Biography:

Harmony Goorley obtained her Masters of Forensic Psychology from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology with a concentration in corrections. She later became a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor, Licensed Sex Offender Treatment Provider, and Certified Correctional Health Professional. In 2005, she began working with individuals on the autism spectrum and speaks nationally on the effective management of inmates on the autism spectrum. She remains focused on elevating care for severely mentally-ill and special needs populations. She has 10 years of jail and civil commitment experience, is a dedicated corrections clinician well-versed in treatment team management, suicide prevention, and is highly specialized in the treatment of Sexually Violent Persons and the supervision of severely personality disordered prisoners. She has held supervisory positions in civil commitment, corrections, and inpatient residential treatment facilities, as well as serving clients in addiction recovery. Harmony is also a member of the American Correctional Association’s Staff Wellness Committee, dedicated to bringing awareness to the emotional, psychological, and physical challenges experienced by correctional professionals today. Harmony currently works for Falcon Inc., an innovative team of highly experienced and progressive correctional mental health specialists aimed at solving the biggest challenges faced by correctional behavioral healthcare. http://www.falconinc.com/

Access FREE Online Articles at Forensic Scholars Today.

Want more articles? Become a member today to access AIAFS' official quarterly publication, Forensic Mental Health Insider!

Learn more about Concordia University, St. Paul's Master of Arts with an Emphasis in Forensic Behavioral Health degree/certificate program.