People with autism are speaking out, and we are learning more about neurodiversity through practice and research. Consequently, it’s time to look at who is doing the practice and research. Is the family’s cultural background taken into account? If so, do researchers and practitioners know how to adapt? A journal article from the UK sheds a little light on the subject. It’s open access, but you have to click on the link, BAME report 2018 revised.docx.
The title of the paper is, Autism in Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Communities: A Report on The First Autism Voice UK Symposium.
Little is known about the way autism is interpreted and accepted among the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) populations in the United Kingdom (UK). This report summarises a symposium on autism in the UK BAME community in 2018 organised by Autism Voice UK, Participatory Autism Research Collective (PARC) and the Critical Autism/Disabilities Studies Research Group (CADS) at London South Bank University (LSBU).
The stance a family or community take about a condition like autism is influenced by their cultural background. The aims of the symposium were to highlight different perspectives about autism in BAME communities and to preserve the cultural dignity of the community in supporting autistic members. Beliefs about autism, diagnosis, acceptance and support for autistic people from a specific cultural perspective of BAME communities must be cautiously interpreted by autism professionals because beliefs vary among different cultural groups.
Thematic analysis of feedback from participants yielded the following foci. Firstly, cultural, ethnic and religious sensitivities were important to participants who felt that these were often ignored by non-BAME professionals. Secondly, the need for collaboration to improve autism awareness within the community and understanding by professionals of the intersectionality between autism and identity in BAME families was prioritised.
Thirdly, issues around feelings of stigma were common, but delegates felt that these were not well understood beyond people identifying as BAME. An action plan was created which highlighted raising public awareness through community engagement, improving access to information for parents, and culturally aware autism education for professionals and BAME communities.