This page is designed to answer the following questions:
- 6.3. Describe how discrimination against individuals with autism can occur inadvertently in society. (Level 2 Certificate in Understanding Autism, Introduction to Autism)
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Discrimination against individuals with autism can occur inadvertently in society due to a lack of understanding, unintentional bias, or systemic barriers. Here are some examples:
People with autism can be inadvertently excluded from social activities because others may not understand their unique communication styles or behaviors. For example, peers may leave an individual with autism out of a group activity because they incorrectly assume that the person does not want to participate due to their difficulty with social interactions.
In schools, students with autism might face inadvertent discrimination if teachers are not adequately trained to understand and support their needs. For instance, a teacher may interpret a student’s sensory overload as misbehavior and exclude them, rather than providing the necessary sensory accommodations.
Similarly, employers may unintentionally discriminate against individuals with autism by not providing reasonable accommodations or by having hiring practices that inadvertently disadvantage people with autism. For example, traditional job interviews rely heavily on social interaction and communication skills, which can be challenging for individuals with autism, even though they may excel in the actual job tasks.
Healthcare providers may inadvertently discriminate by not taking the time to understand and accommodate the unique needs of patients with autism. For example, they may not provide clear, concrete communication suitable for a person with autism or may not take into account sensory sensitivities when planning treatment.
Many public spaces, events, or services are not designed with the sensory needs of people with autism in mind. Bright lights, loud sounds, crowded spaces – these typical characteristics of public spaces can create overwhelming environments for people with autism. This unintentionally excludes them from participating fully in community life.
Law enforcement and the legal system may unintentionally discriminate against individuals with autism by not understanding their behavior or communication style. For instance, the behavior of a person with autism in a stressful situation might be misinterpreted as non-compliance or aggression.
To combat these unintentional forms of discrimination, it’s important to promote autism awareness and education in all sectors of society, to train professionals in a variety of fields to understand and accommodate the needs of individuals with autism, and to create inclusive policies and environments.