Acceptance is important for everyone, but for autistic people it is too often treated as a "nice to have". The right attitudes to autistic people are what enable autistic people to not be bullied at school, to get a job and to be themselves.
More and more people know about autism, but they don't understand it. We have to work together to change that.
In a YouGov poll we commissioned, we found out some worrying things. Thirty-five per cent of adults in Britain think autism is a learning disability, nearly a third (30%) are unsure whether autism can be cured and 39% believe autistic people lack empathy.
People have made all sorts of remarks to me over the years. Some are surprised I can live on my own, drive a car or even get married. They’ve questioned whether it’s fair on my children that I had them in the first place. Probably most hurtful is the suggestion that I don’t care about people because I’m autistic.
These attitudes have to change. They are actively damaging autistic people every day. One of our 2030 Goals that we announced in November 2021 is to decisively change attitudes to autism within the next decade. We know we can’t do it on our own. It will take a huge collective effort from autism charities, advocates, allies and autistic people.
We aren’t asking for everyone to see the world in the same way we do, we are merely asking that they make an effort to understand it.
Our focus here at Autistica is providing proven evidence that can be applied in real-world settings. That’s why we’re developing the Autistica Autism Attitudes Index.
It’s an innovative new research project that aims to measure and track changes in the UK population’s attitudes to autism and autistic people. It will give us a robust, annual measure of the public’s perceptions, misconceptions and negative attitudes. We can use these results to help tell us how much impact all of our efforts are having.
35% of adults in Britain think autism is a learning disability.
Autistic people see and experience the world differently. We aren’t asking for everyone to see the world in the same way we do, we are merely asking that they make an effort to understand it. We want to help people learn more about autism and autistic people because getting rid of myths is the best (and quickest) way to help build positive attitudes.
Focusing on encouraging acceptance and changing people’s understanding and attitudes is vital to making the world better for autistic people. We see the world differently, but we still exist in the same places and spaces as everyone else. It’s time for people to see past the easy labels and lazy stereotypes and understand that we’re all people and we all deserve the same treatment and respect.