Screening and diagnostic assessment of neurodevelopmental disorders in a male prison

Jane McCarthy*, Eddie Chaplin, Lisa Underwood, Andrew Forrester, Hannah Hayward, Jessica Sabet, Suzy Young, Philip Asherson, Richard Mills, Declan Murphy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to identify neurodevelopmental disorders and difficulties (NDD) in a male prison. The study used standardised tools to carry out screening and diagnostic assessment of the attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and intellectual disability (ID). Design/methodology/approach – The ADHD self-report scale, 20-item autism quotient and the Learning Disability Screening Questionnaire were used to screen 240 male prisoners. Prisoners who screened positive on one or more of these scales or self-reported a diagnosis of ADHD, ASD or ID were further assessed using the diagnostic interview for ADHD in adults, adapted Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule and the Quick Test. Findings – Of the 87 prisoners who screened positive for NDD and were further assessed, 70 met the study’s diagnostic criteria for ADHD, ASD or ID. Most of those with NDD (51 per cent) had previously gone unrecognised and a high proportion (51 per cent) were identified through staff- or self-referral to the study. Originality/value – The study demonstrated that improving awareness and providing access to skilled, standardised assessment within a male prison can result in increased recognition and identification of NDD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)102-111
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Intellectual Disabilities and Offending Behaviour
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jun 2015


  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Diagnosis
  • Intellectual disability
  • Prison
  • Screening


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