The question below appeared in a survey asking autistic adolescents if they have experienced any form of bullying victimization.
“How often do other kids gossip or say mean things about you when you are not around?”
The researcher reported that autistic adolescents were confused by this question and sought clarification. Pretty obvious what’s causing the confusion, isn’t it? I’m surprised none of the researchers noticed it. Sometimes a researcher’s ‘logic’ is hard to understand. The best practice would be to engage autistic individuals in the research process and have them test the survey before it was rolled-out. In any case, it is important to test a survey before it is rolled-out, I hate surveys with questions that make no sense or are unclear. However, I have to give credit to the researchers for reporting this in their article although it’s a shame they didn’t clarify what they meant by the question.
Image from http://www.pixabay.com
One reason I have been feeling particularly down is because I’m tired and annoyed of reading and/or hearing cases of badly worded articles written by so-called professionals or experts that put autism in a bad light. These people probably don’t even care about the very population they’re studying, in which case, why are they even doing this in the first place? The incident involving the university is one example but I’m also referring to academic journal articles. These frustration were the source of inspiration behind this post. It is not very often that I come across a good article with a more balanced and emphathetic view of autism and I can’t wait to share with you this article I’ve just read about the importance of autism acceptance in mental health. Not only did the authors involve autistic individuals in the early planning stages of the research process, they also tried to counter some of the misconceptions surrounding autism. I know it is a 10-page long academic article but I really think it deserves to be read in full.
The passage below appears in the last paragraph of the article:
“Nonetheless, we believe that this study offers novel insight into the importance of autism acceptance for autistic adults and their mental health. Future research should further examine how mental health difficulties in autistic individuals can be protected against by improving autism acceptance…We would particularly advocate for interventions designed alongside autistic people, with a focus on neurodiversity (Gillespie Lynch et al. 2017). Wider societal acceptance should also be strived for to reduce the need for autistic adults to camouflage, and instead be accepted as they are. “
Cage, Monaco and Newell (2018) Experiences of Autism Acceptance and Mental Health in Autistic Adults, Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders; 48(2):473-484. doi: 10.1007/s10803-017-3342-7.