Defense Date


Graduation Date

Fall 2009


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name



School Psychology


School of Education

Committee Chair

Tammy Hughes

Committee Member

Laura Crothers

Committee Member

James Schreiber


Adolescent Sexual Offenders, Autism Spectrum Disorders, Beck Depression Inventory, Childhood Trauma Questionnaire, Depression, Maltreatment


The following study examined the presence and severity of abuse and/or neglect and the occurrence of depressive symptomatology among adolescents with High Functioning Autism (HFA) or Asperger's Disorder (AD) compared to adolescents without HFA/AD who are adjudicated delinquent due to sexual offense and attend a State Residential Sexual Offender Program. The scores of 23 adolescent sexual offenders diagnosed with either HFA or AD were compared to 15 non-HFA/AD adolescent sexual offenders on the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ) as well as the Beck Depression Inventory - Second Edition (BDI-II). An investigation of whether there is a relationship between the severity of abuse and depressive symptomatology among adolescent sexual offenders with HFA/AD was also conducted. Results of the present study reveal that in regard to the occurrence of maltreatment, there are no statistically significant differences between the two groups on any scale of the CTQ. In regard to the occurrence of depressive symptomatology, adolescent sexual offenders with HFA/AD experience statistically significantly more depressive symptomatology than non-HFA/AD adjudicated adolescent sexual offenders. Findings also reveal that adolescent adjudicated sexual offenders with HFA/AD who experience severe levels of emotional abuse and/or emotional neglect are more likely to also have high rates of depressive symptomatology. Overall, abuse and/or neglect as well as depressive symptomatology appear to be present among many adolescent sexual offenders with HFA/AD. These findings have a number of implications for treatment. Particularly, treatment programs housing adolescent sexual offenders with HFA/AD need to identify the occurrence of childhood maltreatment and depression, and create modified treatments to match the unique needs of this population.