Understanding Why People with Autism Get Charged with Possessing Child Pornography

If there’s one thing that most people with autism have in common, it’s their keen interest in things that other people don’t usually take notice of. In some cases, however, this interest can lead them down to a path that threatens their legal liberty. It’s not uncommon for someone on the spectrum to get charged with possession of child pornography. But why?

Lack of Social Awareness and Impulsivity

One of the defining characteristics of individuals with autism is their difficulty in understanding social norms and conventions. They may have a hard time understanding why certain behaviors are considered inappropriate or taboo. This lack of social awareness combined with impulsivity can be a recipe for disaster. Someone with ASD who impulsively downloads or shares child pornography may not understand the gravity of their actions and may be unaware of the legal consequences that come with the crime.

High Functioning Autism is Often Misunderstood

People with high functioning autism, or Asperger’s Syndrome, are often misunderstood by law enforcement and the general public. They may come off as suspicious or indifferent, and their behavior may not always align with what’s considered “normal.” This can lead to them being viewed as perpetrating a heinous crime even when they don’t fully understand or intend to cause harm.

Difficulty in Distinguishing Fantasy from Reality

Another aspect of autism that comes into play is the difficulty in distinguishing fantasy from reality. People with autism tend to have vivid imaginations and may be drawn to specific fantasies that they don’t see as harmful. This can include sexual fantasies, which they may turn to child pornography to fulfill. They may not understand that these images represent real children who are being exploited and that they are contributing to the abuse.

Pressure from External Sources

People with autism may also be more susceptible to coercion or pressure from external sources. They may be manipulated or deceived into downloading or sharing child pornography without fully comprehending the consequences of their actions. This is particularly true if they lack a strong support system or network of people who can guide them away from risky behavior.

Finally, it’s important to understand that people with autism who are charged with possessing child pornography are still subject to the same legal consequences as anyone else who commits the crime. However, it’s essential that their lawyers, judges, and juries know and understand how their autism factors into their actions and intent. This may mean seeking alternative means of punishment or rehabilitation that can address the underlying issues that led to the behavior in the first place.


Criminal charges relating to child pornography can be devastating for anyone, but they can be especially so for people with autism who may not understand the full gravity of their actions. It’s crucial that attorneys, judges, and juries familiarize themselves with the nuances of autism and how it affects behavior and decision-making. Understanding why people with autism get charged with child pornography possession can help prevent future offenses and ensure that justice is served in a way that accounts for the unique characteristics and challenges that come with being on the spectrum.  At Manosh Payette, LLC, we have the experience and sensitivity necessary to fully advocate for your child and defend their rights in every possible way. Contact Manosh Payette, LLC, because your future deserves the best defense