Understanding Autism at Sentencing

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At least 1 in every 54 Americans are on the Autism Spectrum.  But prosecutors and judges often fail to understand what Autism is, why those on the spectrum can be morally blameless for the crimes they have committed, why they are they unlikely to reoffend, and why sending them to prison is cruel and unusual punishment.

Helping us get Set For Sentencing this week, Attorney Jamie Sparks and Dr. Toni Sparks, Asst. Prof. of Practice, Disability & Psychoeducational Studies at the Univ. of Arizona.  A dynamic duo, these two sisters combined their expertise to achieve an incredible result for their Autistic client accused of a serious online offense.


  • What is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and why it always matters to the outcome of your case;
  • How do we recognize when a client may be on the spectrum;
  • Tackling the gross misconception that those with ASD are incapable of empathy;
  • Why those with ASD are particularly vulnerable to abuse in the system;
  • Why the term “High Functioning” Autism is the ultimate misnomer;
  • Why finding the right expert is critical, as not all psych professionals fully understand Autism;
  • Tackling the daunting task of educating the prosecutor and judge about Autism and its relevance;
  • The exponentially punitive nature of a prison or jail sentence for those with ASD;
  • Overcoming government skepticism when there has been no ASD diagnosis prior to arrest;
  • Disability laws that give rise to client rights & protections if they are sentenced to jail.


Law Offices of Jamie Sparks

Toni Sparks, Asst. Prof. of Practice, Disability and Psychoeducational Studies, University of Arizona

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