6. “I want to be seen as me and for my gender, sexual orientation and race to be taken into account.”
Feedback from focus groups during the Review of the Autism Strategy suggested that a wide range of professionals and individuals encountered by people on the autistic spectrum do not look beyond the individual’s autism.
People have many stereotypes and preconceptions about what someone with autism is like: “male”, “white”, “good at maths” are often things people have in their mind. Some of these pre-conceptions may prevent people accessing support that they need, for example, in relation to their sexuality or which is right for their cultural or religious background. It may also be leading to significant under-diagnosis amongst certain groups, for example, people from a BME background.
Although this was raised during the Review by people with autism as a really important area, we don’t yet know enough about these issues. So to learn more and gather case studies, during 2014/15 DH will bring together groups and networks that work on equality issues, including race, gender and sexuality, with third sector and other experts on autism to look at the issues experienced by women and people who are lesbian, gay, bi-sexual or transgender, and members of BME groups, who have autism. (Action 15) We will seek to build partnerships between equality and autism third sectors groups to explore what their networks can do together to support people with autism as part of the ‘Think Autism’ champions programme.