culture & ethnicity
Autistic people exist across all heritages, religions, races, ethnicities, faiths and cultures, and yet there is still a lack of research around our similarities and differences.
In order to fully understand all autistic people, there is an urgent need to learn more about autistic people of all races, ethnicities, cultures, heritages and faiths.
Although diagnosis, support and access to services is more difficult for autistic women, girls and adults, it is yet more difficult for other communities. For women of colour, it is perhaps the most difficult of all.
This section of the site is way too small for my liking so I hope to be able to add further good quality research around this subject in the future. If this is a topic that interests you and particularly if you have lived experience from this community, and you would consider writing something for this page, please don't hesitate to contact me.
In 2014, The National Autistic Society (UK) produced a report explaining their research so far, which is trying to better understand some of these challenges. (Please note that the use of the term BAME is not my own.)
‘We wanted to find out some of the key reasons why BAME autistic people are not receiving appropriate support or struggling to get a diagnosis. To help us do this, we asked BAME autistic people and their families about their needs and experiences and to consider the role that ethnicity, faith and language could play in this.’
According to their report, the main themes identified were:
Challenges around getting diagnosis due to both levels of understanding within the community as well as amongst teachers.
Barriers to accessing services, including not knowing where to turn, language and translation difficulties at available services and professionals’ use of jargon.
A lack of cultural understanding from professionals and also a lack of confidence in those professionals. Also, a feeling of being patronised by professionals.
A lack of awareness, understanding and support around autism within the communities themselves as well as stigma around disability. In addition, some parents felt blamed for their children’s disabilities.
A general denial around autism and the resulting social isolation as well as feelings of shame and blame.
Other reports have identified similar themes:
Kandeh, M.S., Kandeh, M.K., Martin, N. and Krupa, J. (2018), "Autism in black, Asian and minority ethnic communities: a report on the first Autism Voice UK Symposium", Advances in Autism, Vol. 6 No. 2, pp. 165-175.