Prejudice and discrimination facing the BAME neurodivergent community

Free PDA interview with Emma Dalmayne

Q 1) What should people be aware of when considering the BAME neurodivergent community?
Emma: They should be aware that we have been judged for our skin colour as well as our stims and difficulties with communication. They should take into account the fact that we may come from backgrounds that were and are not understanding or accepting of autism. Discrimination is something we are used too.
Q 2) A recent article stated that Black and Latino children are often overlooked when it comes to autism. Is this true in your experience? Do you believe this issue affects BAME neurodivergent adults as well?
Emma: Yes, it is common. Parents may be reluctant to have a child assessed and diagnosed as in many cultures, autism is seen as a curse or a disgrace on the family.
They may rubbish any suggestion of autism and say it is a label, that their children are simply stubborn or wilful as this is what they have been told by family and friends.
Churches for instance may say an autistic child is possessed by the devil, this puts parents off reaching out for help.
Q 3) Are non-male neurodivergent BAME people overlooked even more?
Emma: Yes definitely. A Black autistic girl will have been labelled rude or stubborn, stims seen as aggression. It's sad as so many are undetected and then unsupported.
Q 4) It has come to light that white children are more likely to be diagnosed with autism and ADHD, while black children are more likely to be diagnosed with ODD (oppositional defiant disorder). PDA children are also frequently misdiagnosed with ODD. Do you think that black PDA children are especially vulnerable to this misdiagnosis?
Emma: I am not too sure on that one, I do know that meltdowns and sensory seeking are more likely to be seen by teachers in schools and the public as aggression.
Q 5) Are autism diagnostic criteria a fit for BAME and other cultures? Do they transfer well?
Emma: I think it needs work. The whole thing needs overhauling.
Q 6) There are a high proportion of ASD mums who are seen as neurotic and accused of FII (fabricated or induced illness) - is this discrimination heightened in the BAME population?
Emma: Women are seen as weak and unable to 'handle' their children if they lash out or meltdown in the majority of the Black communities I know. To say you think you may be autistic or have a mental illness can be frowned upon.
The Black community is becoming more accepting. It will take time and education.

Emma Dalmayne is an autistic activist who campaigns against fake cures for autism. Emma has 6 children, 5 of whom are autistic.
She is CEO of Autistic Inclusive Meets and has authored two published books, 'It's An Autism Thing I'll Help You Understand It' and 'Susie Spins'. She also co-owns Autism Inclusivity Facebook group with John Greally, an Autistic advocate from New Zealand


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