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Psychiatry Res. 2017 Jun;252:234-241. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2017.03.004. Epub 2017 Mar 6.

Neurodevelopmental disorders in young violent offenders: Overlap and background characteristics.

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Gillberg Neuropsychiatry Centre, Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden. Electronic address:
Centre for Ethics, Law and Mental Health, Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden.
Forensic Psychiatry, Department of Clinical Sciences, Lund University, Lund, Sweden; Regional Forensic Psychiatric Clinic, Växjö, Sweden.
Lund University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Clinical Sciences, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Lund, Sweden; Division of Forensic Psychiatry, Region Skåne, Sweden.


Neurodevelopmental disorders (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), tic disorder, intellectual disability (ID)), in prison populations have received increased attention but the focus has generally been on one single condition leaving out the global picture. This study assessed the prevalence and overlap of neurodevelopmental disorders (NDD) in a consecutive cohort (n=270) of young adult male offenders (age 18-25 years), sentenced for "hands-on" violent offences and serving prison time in Swedish prisons. Seventy-one percent of all who met inclusion criteria participated. Comprehensive clinical assessments were carried out including history of early antisocial behavior and maladjustment, self-report questionnaires and an intelligence test. Sixty-three percent of the study group met DSM-IV criteria for childhood ADHD, 43% for ADHD in adulthood, 10% met criteria for an ASD, 6% for Tourette syndrome, and 1% for ID. Twenty-two percent had borderline intellectual functioning. A substantial rate of overlap between the NDDs was found. The combined NDD group had an earlier onset of antisocial behavior, had more aggressive behavior and lower school achievements than the non-NDD group. The results highlight the need for prison and probation services to be attentive of and screen for neurodevelopmental disorders in young violent offenders.


Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorders; Autism spectrum disorder; Prison; Tourette syndrome

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