The forensic implications of camouflaging: victimisation and offending in Autism and Pathological Demand Avoidance

Trundle, Grace (2021) The forensic implications of camouflaging: victimisation and offending in Autism and Pathological Demand Avoidance. DForenPsy thesis, University of Nottingham.

PDF (Grace Trundle Academic Thesis with Corrections) (Thesis - as examined) - Requires a PDF viewer such as GSview, Xpdf or Adobe Acrobat Reader
Available under Licence Creative Commons Attribution.
Download (2MB) | Preview


Social camouflaging refers to behaviours or strategies which conceal an individuals’ Autism from others. Camouflaging has also been described by individuals with Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA). Camouflaging is reportedly used in response to threat, potentially reducing the risk of victimisation. Camouflaging can also prevent timely diagnosis and access to support, which may increase the risk of victimisation and offending behaviour. This thesis aims to examine the forensic implications of social camouflaging in association with autism and PDA traits.

First, a systematic review and meta-analysis was conducted to determine the prevalence of victimisation in autistic individuals considering various forms of victimisation such as bullying and conventional crime, finding a prevalence rate of 44%. There was heterogeneity in the prevalence rate. Subgroup analysis explored potential moderating factors such as participants’ age, reporter used, and the setting from which participants were recruited. Higher prevalence rates were found in community samples compared to clinical samples and were greater in parent-report compared to self-report. However, heterogeneity remained, restricting the generalisation of the results. Nevertheless, the results highlighted several implications such as increasing collaboration between health and social care services.

Following this, a methodological critique of the Juvenile Victimization Questionnaire (JVQ), a widely used measure of victimisation, is presented. The JVQ has demonstrated acceptable internal consistency and good predictive validity. However, more evidence is required regarding criterion and concurrent validity and test-retest reliability. The critique provides recommendations for the istudy of victimisation in research, including validation of the JVQ in autistic people.

A cross-sectional study with 220 adults then used multiple regression analysis to explore the association between victimisation, PDA and autistic traits, symptoms of depression and anxiety, and social camouflaging. Victimisation was predicted by PDA traits and symptoms of depression. Camouflaging was positively correlated with victimisation, suggesting it could increase the risk of victimisation for autistic and PDA individuals.

A second study with the same sample used multiple regression analysis to examine the relationship between offending behaviour, autism and PDA traits, symptoms of depression and anxiety, and social camouflaging. The analysis found camouflaging predicted greater offending behaviour. PDA and autism traits also predicted offending behaviour. Thus, camouflaging may also increase the risk of offending behaviour. The results of the empirical studies are considered with reference to implications within the Criminal Justice System.

The results presented throughout the thesis are considered and a theoretical model is produced through structural equation modelling. This found direct and indirect pathways to offending and victimisation through mental health difficulties, autism and PDA traits, and camouflaging behaviour. Theoretical and practical implications, limitations, and recommendations for future research are then discussed.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (DForenPsy)
Supervisors: Ropar, Danielle
Jones, Katy
Egan, Vincent
Keywords: Autism, PDA, offending, victimisation, camouflaging
Subjects: W Medicine and related subjects (NLM Classification) > WM Psychiatry
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > School of Medicine
Item ID: 66968
Depositing User: Trundle, Grace
Date Deposited: 08 Dec 2021 04:40
Last Modified: 08 Dec 2021 04:40

Actions (Archive Staff Only)

Edit View Edit View