The increase in autism prevalence and presentation in the media suggests a rise in public awareness. This paper aims to explore what factors (contact, knowledge and ethnicity) may be associated to positive attitudes towards individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
An online survey examined contact with and knowledge of ASD among Black, Asian and White ethnic groups to predict public attitudes to people with ASD.
In multiple regression models, the results suggested that the level of contact predicts positive attitudes towards autism when demographic factors were accounted. The level of knowledge about autism were significantly associated to attitudes, but not consistently when demographic factors were accounted. However, differences in knowledge and attitudes to people with ASD were identified amongst Black, Asian and White ethnic groups.
These findings have implications for policy and public health and education campaigns, including ensuring contact and knowledge of autism among the public.
These findings have implications for policy and public health and education campaigns, including ensuring contact and knowledge of autism among the public. Additionally, further effort is required to target public knowledge and attitudes to autism, particularly among ethnic groups. Institutional support tailored to encourage structured and unstructured contact across public domains such as education, health, social and care practices could effectively reduce prejudice between the public and people with ASD over time.
This work was funded by Economic and Social Research Council PhD Studentship. The authors thank their participants from the public who piloted and completed the survey.
Gemegah, E., Hartas, D. and Totsika, V. (2021), "Public attitudes to people with ASD: contact, knowledge and ethnicity", Advances in Autism, Vol. 7 No. 3, pp. 225-240. https://doi.org/10.1108/AIA-01-2020-0009
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