ASD in Society

Erika Szántó

The stigmatization of neurodivergent people is still prevalent in this current age. This is highly surprising considering the fact that approximately 15-20% of the world’s population is neurodiverse. So why are we like this? Why don’t we know more?

Let’s take a look at Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), for example. Even to this day, diagnostic criteria is often based on outdated findings that cannot accurately show how autism actually works. Most of the research surrounding autism was based on how it presents in young boys, even though it is nearly as common in girls as well, and can display entirely differently in adults. Because of this, the older you are, the more difficult it is for you to get diagnosed properly, especially if you are female. To make things worse, if you have the diagnosis, you can be discriminated against on the job market and probably won’t even be able to access proper accommodations.

ASD is often demonized by a certain popular autism support group, a “charity” that overshadows other charities that actually help people on the spectrum. A surprisingly large amount of people still believe in the repeatedly discredited study that says vaccines cause autism, and would rather have their children possibly become seriously ill just to “evade” that threat. The portrayal of autistic people in the media is likewise inaccurate, often infantilizing or even making fun of autistic traits. Furthermore, people are starting to use “autistic” as an insult because they’re learning that it’s offensive to say “retarded” now, so they just target a smaller group.

It is in human nature to exclude difference and cherish similarity. Perhaps this is causing so many issues in modern society.