Good afternoon. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I have served people (children, teens, adults) with Aspergers Disorder for the past twenty seven years. Prior to ability to diagnose in the USA, I worked on two masters degrees that allowed me to research in European literature, theory and practice. My masters are in Special Education and Individual and Social Rehabilitation. I am a Kennedy Scholar, and this is my vocation.
I very much would like to assist you with an answer to your question. I will do the best I can, but perhaps through clarification and teaching me the circumstances, I may best serve you. We will get to that in a moment.
Stealing and Aspergers Disorder are not uncommon in terms of a diagnosis and behavior relationship. The reason for these "isms" run a very wide range. There is a behavior called hording, and a part of the hording can be stealing to collect certain items. Silverware, coins, photos, money....these can all be items that are horded.
In speaking with many people with this behavior, it provides a sense of calm and security. The treatment has been both through discrete trial methodology for adults, as well as helping the person to find calm without the hording. I put them in charge, and ask them to make a personal social rule. Once done, the horded goods are returned, and the behavior most often stops.
There also is just the very human aspect of stealing. It is similar to not telling the truth (aka lying) which people with Aspergers are not immune from. If it is ascertained that the root is not hording, but just stealing, then I am much more direct, not about personal rules, but about both societal rules of conduct, consequences, I am not emotional at all in the delivery, quite the opposite.These are the rules, and if you break them, these are the consequences. Cut and dry. Although there may be something that the person may have that leads to the behavior, I start in this event with the behavior itself. I have been told by some individuals that "it is due to their disorder" yet they cannot provide any further information than that, and as a forensic interviewer, I often see the non-conscious cues of this being a falsehood. As such, I will not play games, as in real life, which by the twenties, someone is a part of, the consequences for stealing can be quite severe.
If there is an underlying problem, without the stealing, that need still must be filled, and it is easier to identify and deal with through counseling and therapy.
There is also a third reason that I have come across, though it usually is not confined to just stealing. It involves testing boundaries and limits to see a) where they are and b) to find some sort of comfort in knowing such limits. Again, this is more of a counseling or therapy treatment issue.
I do not know the circumstances, and if you are the parent, I know that for most,it is difficult to state that one's child is stealing. I do know that if the clinical counselor or therapist is well-skilled, the behavior should be impacted within two to six sessions, depending on how ingrained the behavior is. If you see no change after two months, I would wonder seriously about what type of therapy is being used, and how an assessment of the behavior was conducted.
If the person is legally his or her own guardian, of course this cannot be disclosed to even the parents without a release of information. If the person feels this is important, and you are paying for the treatment, I would ask for the release of information as to continue supporting it, you need to know what is transpiring. I have had parents do this, and often we can come to some sort of mutually agreeable feedback loop. There may be specifics the person does not want to disclose, but may be open to what in general has been done in therapy.
I do not know of anyone who has not been able to stop stealing, regardless of the cause. This is not to say that I know all people, or every situation, however this has been my experience with many hundreds (thousands) of people I have served.
I hope this may provide an answer to your question, and perhaps you know what might be the causation of the stealing, and can put what I have written into that context. If this is helpful, and does answer the question, I would greatly appreciate your accepting this answer. If this leads to further questions, I will be here, and you can always, should you choose, write to me directly through this forum.
I wish you the best, XXXXX XXXXX that this person can correct with assistance this behavior.