Legal support - Can you help my lawyer?
Supporting individuals and legal systems to appropriately interpret the communication, behavior, and competencies of someone on the autism spectrum.
Legal professionals work on a daily basis with families or individuals who present with hidden features, diagnosed or undiagnosed, of Autism or Asperger’s. Accurate understanding of an individual’s Autism Spectrum profile can change the functional understanding of victim impact, parenting skills, at risk behaviour, alleged criminal conduct and the relationship this can have with the law.
Decipher Zone Provides Psycho-Legal Services:
Consultation or training for legal and other professionals
Deciphering profiles of Autism Spectrum Disorder in adults and children
Possible implications for ASD in legal processes
Considerations for shared parenting for children or parents with ASD
Effective communication with clients who present with a ASD profile
Psychological Evaluations, Reports and Expert Opinion
Fitness to stand trial / to plead
Compensation and personal Injury
Criminal responsibility and capacity
“Can you tell me what it means to waive your rights?”
I hold my breath as Jacob hesitates. And then slowly, beautifully, the right fist he’s been banging against the wooden railing unfurls and is raised over his head, moving back and forth like a metronome.”
Autism Spectrum Disorder expert services can help:
increase understanding of an individuals strengths, vulnerabilities, needs, risks, and protective factors
inform legal strategy, capacity, evidentiary and outcome considerations
a judge or jury understand how people with ASD think and interact with other people to get best the outcomes.
Involvement in legal and court proceedings can be extremely challenging, stressful, and complex. Accessing proper legal support is critical, and psychological assessments, consultation, and opinion can also help with different questions lawyers, courts and tribunals will have.
Police and Investigative Interview Services:
Ensuring the collection of reliable, accurate evidence through interviews can be difficult. It is often important to be aware of the impact of questioning techniques, and interrogation methods. Expert consultation, evaluation and opinion can help decipher the experience and communication of an individual on the Spectrum.
Providing evidence can be distressing and the court room can be intimidating and frightening for anyone, particularly for a person on the spectrum. Communication differences, perspective taking challenges, strong attention to detail, and inflexible thinking can all complicate the presentation of evidence for a person on the spectrum. Obtaining a psychological opinion to help understand these profile considerations and their impacts can help the person, their family, lawyers, and the court.
Fitness to Stand Trial/to Plead:
A person on the spectrum may have difficulties with the specific communication requirements for their trial and ability to manage information, understand roles, talk and interact with the legal process effectively. This may be in some circumstances so severe that they may not be fit to plead or stand trial, and psychological opinion can assist with understanding functional skills and knowledge for court.
Criminal Responsibility and Capacity:
Usually forensic psychiatrists provide evaluations for criminal responsibility in cases in Australia, though this is not always the case internationally. Clinical and forensic psychological evaluations can assist the psychiatrist with standardized assessment findings, and in particular where cognitive/intellectual capacity, adaptive behaviour and risk assessment considerations may be critical to the case.
Prevention, Intervention and Rehabilitation:
A person on the Autism Spectrum can require tailored and individualised services to gain the most from psycho-social prevention and intervention services. We can assist with formulating the treatment and management plan aligned with the clinical profile of the person on the spectrum.
Transitioning from secure care facilities to the community can create significant coping impacts, for a person on the spectrum, and specialised transition planning can be critical for a successful move. We support intensive stakeholder engagement and individualized planning to increase the chances of positive transition outcomes.
A person on the spectrum can present with risk behaviours that can be misinterpreted as criminal in nature; for example sexual, violent and internet behaviours. We can assist in helping understand these, as well as appropriately assessing the magnitude and management of the risk relevant to specific scenarios.
Compensation and Personal Injury: Occasionally events happen at work or in the community which could cause a psychological injury for a person. This can also be true for someone with an Autism Spectrum condition. You may have seen a traumatic event at work or been a victim of crime, and been in a car accident. Psychological opinion can help with understanding how these events may affect the development, progression, and treatment of a psychological injury in a person on the Autism Spectrum.
Government Administration: There are occasions where specialised input into government administrative decision making for a person on the spectrum can be invaluable. This can include consulting and psycho-legal evaluation services related to migration, income tax, disability, university. For example, the grant or refusal of a visa or a pension, or a decision on a tax assessment, or decisions to impose or refuse to impose an obligation, requirement or disability.
Guardianship and Administration: Sometimes people can have impaired decision making abilities, and this impaired capacity can lead to significant difficulties managing their own life. Determining the need for enduring guardianship and the functional abilities related to specific capacities, and what the guardian shall do, can be extremely complicated. It can require specialized input, and more so where it involves a person on the spectrum, and especially to help evaluate decision making abilities/disabilities.
Powers of Attorney and Advance Directives: In order for a person to make informed decisions about property and finances, lifestyle and health, they need to have capacity, or be able to rationally and reasonably make decisions themselves or manage their affairs. Psychological evaluation can help functionally assess the relevant abilities related to capacity and the specific area of consideration for a person on the spectrum.
Competency to Make Treatment Decisions: Health practitioners like Doctors, Dentists, Psychologists require a person’s consent before treating them. Determining if a person is capable of validly consenting to treatment is critical. For example, knowing if a person is incapable of understanding the general nature and effect of proposed treatment or is incapable of indicating whether or not they consent to the treatment being carried out. These capacities can be significantly impacted on when a person is on the spectrum, and specialized input can be crucial to informed decision making.
Child or parent coping strategies:
Sometimes if a child or parent is on the Autism Spectrum, times of change or uncertainty can lead to difficult or different behavior. We can assist in deciphering the meaning of behavior change and assist with setting up appropriate strategies to increase successful family transitions and decrease distress.
Assessment of families may involve evaluating parenting arrangements, risk and safety considerations, family functioning and expertise in identifying short and long term effects/exposure to family violence, abuse, mental health problems, and drug and alcohol misuse. Our services can help with translating the autism spectrum when assessing these considerations for appropriate care and safety arrangements.
Single Expert Services:
In cases before the Family Court or Child Safety where expert evidence is needed in relation to parent, child, or family functioning, we can assist. Together Kathleen and David have expertise with assessing clinical conditions (child and adult), risk assessment, family relationship functioning, parenting capacity, violence within families, and exposure of, and impacts from drug and alcohol misuse.
Family dispute resolution (mediation) processes and co-parenting arrangements:
We can provide additional consultation to support separated or separating families when one or more member is on the autism spectrum.