Encyclopedia of Autism Spectrum Disorders

Living Edition
| Editors: Fred R. Volkmar

Counterfeit Deviance

  • Rachel Loftin
  • Alexander Westphal
  • Laurie A. Sperry
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-6435-8_102143-1


The term “counterfeit deviance” is used to describe inappropriate behavior rooted in factors other than true deviance. It is most often used in the context of inappropriate sexual behavior, in which the observed behavior looks paraphilic but, upon closer examination, was the result of other factors. Counterfeit deviance has been the focus of more discussion in the intellectual disability literature than in the autism-specific literature. There are clinical examples of its occurrence even among people with ASD who have adequate intellectual ability.

Traits associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) – including but not limited to difficulty taking another person’s perspective, social naiveté, preoccupation with particular areas of interest, differences in sensory perception – may make this population prone to situations that cause counterfeit deviance, particularly when the behavior of the person with ASD is assessed by someone unfamiliar with these traits. While one...

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References and Reading

  1. Dewinter, J., Vermeiren, R., Vanwesenbeeck, I., & Nieuwenhuizen, C. (2013). Autism and normative sexual development: A narrative review. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 22(23-24), 3467–3483.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Griffiths, D., Hingsburger, D., Hoath, J., & Ioannou, S. (2013). ‘Counterfeit deviance’ revisited. Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities, 26(5), 471–480.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
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  4. Lockhart, K., Guerin, S., Shanahan, S., & Coyle, K. (2010). Expanding the test of counterfeit deviance: Are sexual knowledge, experience and needs a factor in the sexualised challenging behaviour of adults with intellectual disability? Research in Developmental Disabilities, 31(1), 117–130.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media LLC 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rachel Loftin
    • 1
  • Alexander Westphal
    • 2
    • 3
  • Laurie A. Sperry
    • 4
  1. 1.ChicagoUSA
  2. 2.Division of Law and PsychiatryYale School of MedicineNew HavenUSA
  3. 3.Yale Child Study CenterNew HavenUSA
  4. 4.Department of PsychiatrySchool of Medicine, Yale UniversityNew HavenUSA