Persecution of autistic people
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Research published in 2013 reported the results of a survey taken of a national sample of American parents of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) children conducted by the Kennedy Krieger Institute. The study found that 38 percent of the ASD children experienced bullying over a one-month period, and 28% were frequently bullied. Of those bullied, 69% experienced emotional trauma, 14% feared for their safety, and 8% suffered physical injury.
In 2011, a 10-year-old autistic boy from Pakistan was granted political asylum in the United States on that ground that his autism-related behavior, which included compulsions and violent episodes of self-harm, placed him at risk of torture and persecution if returned to his native country. The boy's mother wrote in her asylum application that the majority of Pakistanis viewed the boy's condition as a curse from God, and that the boy was forced to undergo various dangerous and degrading "treatments" such as drinking dirty water meant for crows.
In the United States, people with disabilities are victims of violent crime three times more often than people without disabilities. The Bureau of Justice Statistics does not report separately on autistic victims, but it does note that the victimization rate is especially high among those whose disabilities are cognitive. A small-sample study of Americans and Canadians found that adults with autism face a greater risk of sexual victimization than their peers. Autistic respondents were more than twice as likely to say they had been the victim of rape and over three times as likely to report unwanted sexual contact.
- Benjamin Zablotsky, Catherine P. Bradshaw, Connie Anderson; Paul A. Law, The Association Between Bullying and the Psychological Functioning of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders, Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics (January 2013), Vol. 34, Issue 1, doi:10.1097/DBP.0b013e31827a7c3a.
- Adam Feinstein, A History of Autism: Conversations with the Pioneers (John Wiley & Sons: 2010), p. 242.
- John J. Pitney Jr., The Politics of Autism: Navigating The Contested Spectrum (Rowman & Littlefield, 2015), p. 115.