The Stigma of Autism

The Stigma of AutismWhat parent of a child with autism hasn’t had one of those moments in public? Your child is screaming, spinning or making noises, and you’re on the receiving end of disapproving stares or outright hostility from others. “Control your child,” they say coldly. Maybe he assumes your child lacks discipline; maybe he recognizes the disability but blames you for subjecting him to such behavior. The Annoyed can be a stranger, an acquaintance or cousin Pat.

At that moment, you feel the stigma that societies around the globe attached to autism. In different ways and to different degrees, people in many countries view autism as a source of disappointment, annoyance, shame or worse. According to some researchers, stigma may keep families from seeking a diagnosis and services for their children, from participating fully in their communities, and from enjoying the same quality of life as their neighbors. Simply put, stigma influences public health.

We need to move forward from preconceived, negative ideas surrounding an autism diagnosis. Views that suggest that parents are using the diagnosis as a “Badge of honor” or to “excuse poor behavior” do not consider or are not aware of how this could affect young people who may desperately need an autism diagnosis or ongoing support.  Parents are not wearing autism as a “badge of honor” like some craze or fashion statement, they are simply comfortable with the term and keen to promote awareness or acceptance.

Changes in perception need to be promoting acceptance to all types of people instead of marginalizing one group over another. Barriers around inclusion and awareness are still the areas we need to be prioritizing and not getting sidetracked with the negative stigma and misconceptions of “labeling.” If a more diverse playing field in society existed, then labels of difference could be viewed in the positive light they deserve.

Let us help you. We offer Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) services for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and our services are outlined here. We encourage you to call us directly, toll-free, at (844) 263-1613 or email us at We are based in Elmhurst, Illinois.