Jill is a second-year PhD student in Clinical Psychology with a forensic concentration at Montclair State University. She recently had a first-authored paper accepted in Aggression and Violent Behavior. Congrats, Jill!
Title: Violent Behavior in Autism Spectrum Disorders: Who's at Risk?
Abstract: Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are a range of complex neurodevelopmental disorders characterized by social impairments, communication difficulties, and restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped patterns of behavior. Over the last decade, there has been increased media attention focused on the relationship between ASD and violent behavior due to a number of school shootings and high-profile criminal cases involving offenders with alleged ASD diagnoses. This coverage and these incidents have given rise to public concern and led to the perception that people with ASD are predisposed to violent behavior. In this manuscript, we provide a comprehensive review of the literature bearing on the relationship between ASD and violent behavior, and in doing so, characterize which people with ASD are most likely to be violent and under what circumstances. We conclude that, on the whole, while research findings are mixed, they lend support to the assertion that ASD does not cause violence, and indicate that when violent behavior occurs in people with ASD, it is the result of third variables including poor parental control, family environment, criminality, bullying, or psychiatric comorbidity (e.g., psychosis), that go undetected or untreated. The conclusions of this review have implications for families, clinicians, and policymakers, as a greater understanding of ASD-related violence risk is needed to combat misconceptions about people with ASD and the stigma associated with these conditions.
Read the paper here!
Sarah Moody is the 2018-2019 Communications Officer for the AP-LS Student Committee! She is a second year Ph.D. student at the University of Nevada-Reno. The student membership interacts most with Sarah, as she has been keeping the Facebook and Twitter accounts up to date! Sarah took some time to answer some questions about herself and her professional development. Thanks, Sarah!
If you were not in graduate school what would you do?
As an undergraduate, I double-majored in psychology and Spanish. For a while, I was considering pursuing psycholinguistics. I think the development of language in the individual person and the evolution of language at large are fascinating. If I hadn’t pursued psychology in graduate school, I might be working in linguistics (which, honestly, probably still would have landed me in graduate school).
What is your favorite city and why?
My favorite city is Seville, Spain. I studied abroad in Spain during undergrad and completely fell for southern Spain and Seville, in particular. It’s the most beautiful place I’ve ever been—which is likely why it’s been a setting for Star Wars and Game of Thrones scenes! The people are kind, the weather is great, and the food is to die for.
My favorite American city is Boston. As such a (relatively) young country, the U.S. has few places as rich with history as Boston. I road tripped down the east coast two years ago and Boston was far and away my favorite. It’s quaint, historical, and has great coffee shops, neighborhoods, and recreation areas to explore!
Why did you join the AP-LS Student Committee?
I first considered joining because I have friends and colleagues who have served in the past (and currently serve!) who rave about the experience. I’m passionate about APLS as an organization and wanted to dive in deeper than my annual participation in the conference. Especially after volunteering with the high school outreach program at last year’s conference, I knew I wanted to volunteer within the organization to a greater extent. I ran for my position as the Communications Officer because I have experience with organizational social media and wanted to help promote my favorite group online.
What advice would you give undergraduate students thinking about graduate school?
Get involved in research! I’m sure it has been said before—I heard it a lot!—but it really is critical to have research experience before entering graduate school. My time in a lab as an undergraduate not only boosted my graduate school application, but it taught me so much about the research process, the field, and what grad school is like. It also helped me create relationships with grad students and professors, both at my institution and others. I honestly don’t think I would be where I am now if I hadn’t blown up professors’ emails asking for an RA position going into my sophomore year.
Why psychology and the law?
As a psych major, I was required to take a 1-credit “careers in psychology” course. As much as I dreaded it, the course offered a plethora of valuable information. It was the first time I heard about something called “forensic psychology” and decided to pursue it further. I looked up some professors at my institution who did research in the area, joined a lab, and fell in love! I believe psychology can be practically applied to so many areas of life for the better, and the criminal justice system is certainly one area that needs improvement and can benefit from psychological research.
Sarah, on the right, pictured with a poster at the Western Psychological Association Conference.
About the Editor:
The American Psychology-Law Society (Division 41 of the American Psychology Association) Student Committee is composed of elected student leaders representing the interests of our student members.