Culture, religion and autism

Wednesday 30 November 2022 (18:00-18:45)

Culture and religion’s influence on parents’ experiences of autism is often underrepresented or unconsidered in existing literature. Negative cultural beliefs of disability are prevalent in the Black community in the UK. Particularly within the African community, disability is attributed to supernatural forces, blood money, punishment from gods or ancestors.

Black parents (N=15) were interviewed to examine the role of culture and religion in their lived experiences of autism. The findings showed that cultural and religious beliefs are inextricably linked and influence the community’s perceptions, attitudes and awareness of autism. As such, parents experience stigma, marginalisation and disables attitudes in their community and within religious organisations. Black parents’ experiences of stigma can influence and paralyse their willingness to seek for help in the form of early diagnosis, intervention and parent support groups. The findings from this study have implications for Black parents’ mental health and wellbeing, especially as seen through the lens of cultural/religious factors and contributes to debates about individual wellbeing within a broader social milieu.

Presenter: Eli Gemegah

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