‘People don’t like you when you’re different’: exploring the prison experiences of autistic individuals

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There is little research regarding the prison experiences of individuals diagnosed with autism. Extant literature suggests that prison presents numerous challenges for autistic prisoners. This research explored the experiences of seven autistic men in a UK prison that houses individuals who are serving sentences for sexual convictions. Participants were interviewed using semi-structured interview schedules. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and analysed with an applied inductive thematic analysis. The latter explicitly focuses on generating commonalities that emerge from the data that have practical (applied) utility. The analysis generated three superordinate themes: ‘Interacting with others’, ‘Being in prison’, and ‘My autism’. Participants described both helpful and challenging aspects of the prison experience, and the findings give rise to important implications and considerations regarding the prison experience of autistic individuals. This paper concludes by outlining practical recommendations for prisons to improve the management and support of autistic residents.




Vinter, L. P., Dillon, G., & Winder, B. (2020). ‘People don’t like you when you’re different’: exploring the prison experiences of autistic individuals. Psychology, Crime and Law. https://doi.org/10.1080/1068316X.2020.1781119

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