With everything that is going on in the news and on social media at the moment concerning black lives matter and George Floyd it was only fitting to write this week’s blog on the intersectionality of BAME (Black, Asian, minority ethnic) and autism. Despite there being over 700, 000 people living with autism in the UK, from a variety of backgrounds, identities, and cultures there is little research on the experiences and challenges of black, Asian and minority ethnic individuals with autism. Therefore this week’s blog will be a research post that aims to outline some of the barriers of autistic BAME individuals and their families and identify some of the ways you can help.
The Research: Diverse perspective
After producing studying a variety of research, The National Autistic Society realised that there was a lack of information about the experiences and challenges faced by BAME communities with autism. So, in 2012 they set out to address this need by carrying out a focus group of parents, careers, and children with autism to explore the barriers they face in accessing service. 130 people participated in this research, of which 71 identified themselves as either Asian or specified Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Chinese, and Vietnamese. 56 identified themselves as black, 2 as white, and 1 as Middle Eastern. Participants were asked to consider three key questions.
- What support do you and your family need in relation to autism?
- What are the challenges in getting the help you need?
- If it has been difficult to get help, why do you think that is?
Those involved were encouraged to consider the potential impact of ethnicity, faith and religious beliefs, gender, and language when considering the questions. In short, many families stated that their difficulties were down to their Childs autism and not their ethnicity. Although this was the case many also faced additional barriers that appear to reflect shared experiences within BAME communities.
Getting a diagnosis
The first challenge that was experienced by all was the challenge of getting a diagnosis. While this is a challenge for all it may be particularly apparent in BAME communities as they are tend to live in higher inequality areas that are underfunded. As a result, they may lack the necessary infrastructure or their services may not meet their cultural needs.
This is evident in the study produced by The Equalities National Council and Scope (2012) which found that many disabled people from BME (black and minority ethnic) backgrounds in the UK are unable to access the services they need.
They reported that 44% of BME disabled people are living in household poverty, compared to 32% of all disabled people and 17% of the population as a whole.
Schools not noticing the signs of autism
Another challenge that was experienced by the group as a whole was that schools were not noticing the signs of autism. The group discussed how often their children when labeled as having behaviour problems. Again this could be more apparent with black children, boys in particular because of prejudice and stereotyping. Too often, people’s first assumptions with black children, is that they are naughty and have behavioural difficulties. They often because of this don’t look any further into the issues that the child is facing.
Similarly, failing to notice delayed development and speech is prominent in BAME children with autism as often English is not their first language so speech development is put down as them having difficulty learning and using English.
Shame and Blame
Shame and blame was also another common factor between parents and careers of this group. Due to a lack of knowledge and awareness of autism within communities and religions, bad behaviour was often put down to bad parenting. Families felt embarrassed about taking their autistic child out in public. Not only that but some BAME communities may hold a stigma about disabled children so parents may avoid talking about the topic. There is a real need for more autism resources and awareness to be available in a variety of languages to help BAME communities battle this barrier.
Cultural Stigma and Negative views
This is something experienced far more by BAME families and individuals with autistic children. As mentioned previously one cultural view is that autism as a disability is not a condition but bad parenting and is something that can be ‘cured’. There is a lack of role models or high profile cases of autistic BAME individuals and as a result some associate it to be a white-only condition.
Language and Communication Barriers
Information on autism in the UK is primarily in English and for BAME families this can be a difficulty as some may speak no, or little English making the information inaccessible to them. They often have no access to translators and when interpreters are available the information they relay is not always accurate as they can misunderstand or insert their own cultural assumptions, losing the clarity that professionals can offer. Those that can speak English have stated that they struggle reading the information because it contains too much professional jargon or that they do not feel comfortable asserting themselves in discussion with a UK professional about their Child’s health and education
There are still so many more challenges facing BAME autistic individuals and their families. (i.e. Denial, isolation of parents and careers, and difficulty finding the right support). For more information on these and other challenges faced by BAME autistic individuals please see the link. As previously stated we have been able to recognise just a few to see the full extent of the inter-sectional challenges of BAME autistic individuals. There must be more research done.
What you can do to help raise awareness of these challenges:
Write to your local MP
Let them know how you feel about the subject, educate them on the lack of research on BAME in autism. Ask them to raise this issue and make sure that Policy-makers and commissioners properly assess the needs of BAME communities when producing autism policy and commissioning autism services.
Raise awareness of this issue on social media, to your friends and family.
Check in with your Groups and friends
If you know of any autistic groups or have friends or family that identify as being BAME and autistic, ask them what you can do to help lessen the challenges they are facing. Similarly, with autistic support groups, check-in and make sure that they are discussing this and are doing all they can to support individuals and families who are Black, Asian, Ethnic minorities with autism.
We hope that you now have a greater understanding of the intersectional challenges facing autistic BAME individuals and their families. Now we hope that you understand how you can help address these issues.
Stack Recruitment stands in complete solidarity and we will not be silent. What we do on the surface is important – through social media, hashtags and statements we can help create awareness. What we do beyond this is vital in order to create systemic change of the challenges the black community face globally.
Stack’s mission is to help autistic job seekers find meaningful employment. For more information contact us.
This is a strange, turbulent time for everyone, however particularly strange if you are autistic. This blog is a handy guide and some recommendations to help support autistic individuals, whether you are a parent/carer/friend or family member.
State the facts
Only state clear objective facts about the virus. Don’t engage or let them hear speculation. They will struggle to separate ‘what if’s’ from what is really happening. Try to answer their questions without giving unnecessary details that may alarm them.
There are some brilliant articles online about the facts, including this one from the NHS. A lot of the newspapers and media outlets speculate which can often make it harder to understand or decide what to believe in.
Over the past week there has been a lot in the news about stockpiling, and many items are running out in the supermarkets. Due the nature of whats happening, if you know an autistic individual that only eats certain foods its probably good to think about buying a few extras to ensure everyone remains safe and healthy.
Similarly, if someone is worried about the prevalence of the virus ask if they need anything from the supermarket. Going to busy places to even do basic things like the supermarket shop can be very worrying, especially as they are getting extremely chaotic.
Offices and schools around the world are closing, creating large disruptions to every day life. This can be a big change for autistic people may be moving to a prolonged school holiday or even a working from home situation.
Now is a great time to be talking about routines, and how autistic individuals can keep their routine as normal as possible. You can support people to continuously set their alarms, have the same meal times and interact with the same people on a daily basis. For example, if there is an office closure you can encourage someone to have a short phone call with their manager every day to keep life as routine as possible.
Mental health matters
A lot of events, gyms, cinemas and shops are limiting their hours so its really important to keep yourself active and support everyones mental health and do things we enjoy!
If you or someone you know is usually a gym goer, try doing some home workouts on youtube. Not only will you be spending some time together, but also keeping yourself moving! Other good things to do are putting a good film on or trying some home cooking.
Let them try their own coping mechanisms
Autistic individuals are pretty good at finding ways to cope. Someone has piled pillows outside his door to ‘stop the virus’. Will it in anyway help? No. Does it make him feel safe? Yes. Within reason let individuals cope how they need to.
At the end of the day we are all human and have different ways of dealing with things. We all can do our bit to support others during this situation.
If you or someone else needs additional support:
Further advice can be found on the NHS website
The latest advice from the government can be found here
Mind has a fantastic resource regarding the virus, your health and well being.
The department of education have set up a helpline to answer any questions related to education:
Phone: 0800 046 8687
Opening hours: 8am to 6pm (Monday to Friday)
And finally, if you need someone to talk to confidentially, feel free to give us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will do our best to direct you to additional support if needs be.
For more useful tips visit our blog.
It is more important than ever to get your voice heard and exercise the right to vote. Stack has put together this handy guide to everything you need to know and make your vote on December the 12th.
Registering to vote:
First things first, if you want to vote you must be registered. You can register to vote online or by post.
You can register to vote if you are:
- 18+ years old (or 16+ in Scotland)
- A UK citizen (or an Irish, EU or Commonwealth citizen with a permanent UK address)
Deadlines for the December 2019 General Election:
- Voting in person at a polling station
The deadline to register for this is 11:59pm on 26th November 2019.
- Voting by post or a proxy voting by post
The deadline to register for this is 5pm on 26th November 2019.
- Proxy vote (not postal)
The deadline to register for this is 5pm on 4th December 2019.
To register to vote you will need to know:
- Which country you live in
- Your nationality
- Your full name and date of birth
- Your National Insurance Number
- Your address, and previous address if you have moved in the last 12 months.
You can register to vote by post by filling in a form and sending it to your local electoral office.
Download the registration form here.
You can register to vote online by following the instructions on the website.
How to vote:
There are two ways to vote. You can either do it in person at the polling station or using a postal vote.
Voting in person at the polling station:
- You have to go to your location polling station, which is a place in your neighbourhood designated to take votes on Election Day.
- When you get there, you have to confirm your address to ensure you are registered to vote.
- You will then get a ballot paper which has a list of people you an vote for on it.
- You can then take that to a small booth where you can decide who you want to vote for and once you’ve decided you can put a tick next to the person.
- When you have completed this, fold it in half and put it in the box.
Getting support to vote at a polling station:
- If you need help when you are at the polling station that is completely fine.
- There is someone called an Electoral Officer who can help you.
- All you need to explain how you can best be supported and they will do their best to do so.
Voting by post:
- Voting by post means you will get your voting paper sent to you. You can complete this in your own time and post it to the Electoral Office.
- A postal vote means you are still able to vote even if you’re busy, on holiday, can’t travel or need some more time to think about it.
How to vote by post:
- You will receive your postal poll card in the post.
- You can complete this in your own time and with support if you need it.
- Follow the instructions on the card and put your paper in the enveloper provided. Then all you need to do is send it off.
Voting is becoming more accessible and it is becoming easier to vote in general elections, local elections and referendums.
Make your vote count on December the 12th!
For more useful resources visit our blog.