Effects of Social Perceptions of People with Autism, Inclusion for People with Autism
Topic of the Final Paper: You get to choose a topic of interest in the ever-widening domain of current health care ethics - but, do not select a case already discussed in class. Trouble finding a topic? Then you aren’t reading enough. The text, the discussion boards, the HPD Library, newspapers, www.bioethics.net, and IJAHSP are chock full of very interesting ethical dilemmas. Your paper must present a brief history of the topic, a description of the problems arising within the topic, ethical arguments pro and con, relevant ethical principles and concepts, and, finally, your own personal and well-reasoned solution/conclusion. So, make sure the topic is focused and narrow enough to explore fully (for example, "The Ethics of Abortion" is too broad a topic for a single paper, but "The Ethics of Abortion to Save the Life of the Mother" is not too broad).
Impact of Society’s Influence on Seeking Assistance and Inclusion for People with Autism
Matters associated with mental health issues have recently gained public awareness and continue to be embraced positively. However, the history associated with mental health issues has not always been positive and in essence, there is still more that needs to be done to improve the public knowledge. Significantly, mental health issues are often perceived on the same level and assumed to be the same for all persons involved and found to suffer from a mental health condition or disorder. Among the common assumptions that are made generally include the presumption that all children diagnosed to suffer from mental health issues are automatically deemed to be autistic (John, et al., 2018). The lack of knowledge as well as the misinformation has contributed significantly to the stigmatization of families with children with mental health conditions (John, et al., 2018). The impact of the stigma has been found to contribute to some families opting not to seek help and any form of assistance. The consequences of the stigma have also resulted in finding relevant amenities for children with mental health issues difficult for affected parents. Hence, the following analysis will look into the contributory factors that have prevented families from seeking assistance for mental health issues and in particular, autism.
In the past, mental health issues and disorders were negatively perceived in society. In essence, children born with any form of visible potential presentation of cases of mental health issues and disorders would be subjected to prejudice, humiliation and bullying. Naturally, the consequences of continuous bullying and the issues experienced would in turn render parents and families to reconsider any public appearances to avoid criticisms from the general public. The factors causing autism are associated with the genetic composition of the affected individual. Therefore, instead of having 23 perfect pairs of the chromosomes, an autistic individual has one pair of the chromosomes with three parts as opposed to having a perfect pair (Graf, et al., 2017). It is from this scientific explanation of the factors leading to the occurrence of autism that is used to explain the mental health issue. However, this is an explanation that was not readily welcomed in the past.
Autism differs from other metal health issues such as dementia, ADHD, Alzheimer’s disease and even depression. The signs and symptoms of autism in this respect would be understood immediately following the genetic composition of the chromosomes. However, the lack of information and misinformation in the public setting instead presented a situation in which autism was perceived as the mental disorder that would affect children (Hull, et al., 2017). The autism spectrum presents significant differences and variety with respect to its symptoms. Regardless, society has often perceived autism as a mental disorder negatively and secluded a majority of the affected people and their families (Hull, et al., 2017). The lack of awareness further instigated the stigmatization of mental health disorders in general which in turn presented more difficulty to parents with autistic children (Dillenburger, et al., 2015). The consideration of mental health issues as taboo have in turn negatively impacted on the opportunity for health improvements as well as the ability of the affected persons to seek assistance.
While strides are being made in the direction of creating more awareness, more remains to be done in ensuring the stigma is eliminated and providing families with autistic children and adults with the opportunity to seek relevant assistance. In essence, with the existing stigma, families with autistic children tend to seclude themselves and are limited to the few public services (Dillenburger, et al., 2015). However, with the integration in education involving inclusive learning has been an effective measure to facilitate the inclusion of the autistic children into the education system. The progress made over the years are an indication of the need to look into the social effects of stigma on families with autistic children and mental health issues in general. The impacts are bound to be severe with dire consequences especially when the stigma results in complete seclusion.
Effects of Social Perceptions of Autism
The social understanding of autism as a mental health issue is more often negative mainly because it is associated with mental health which is an area that has been overlooked for a long time. The recent development leading to the creation of awareness associated with the effects of mental health issues has in essence increased the necessity to understand the differences between different mental health issues and how they affect the parties involved. Primarily, societies today have become more educated and aware of the factors and risks of mental health issues and the relevance of seeking medical assistance. Practically, based on the knowledge shared with the public, it is possible for more people to understand the significance of protecting their mental health. However, the factor that has remained in place is with regard to the stigma that a majority of the individuals with mental health disorders face on a daily basis. The social prejudice and overall seclusion of people with autism from various activities and interactions has resulted in families and parents seeking alternatives that would be convenient in terms of education and social spaces.
Essentially, prior to the increased awareness directed toward mental health issues and disorders, society was inclined toward looking down on people with mental health disorders. With respect to autism in particular, a majority of affected persons were stigmatized which not only impacted the affected children and adults but their next of kin as well. The challenges associated with finding the appropriate care, learning institutions and the cost of medication are but among the issues that continue to affect the ability of many people to deal with and manage autism. The misconstrued perceptions about people with autism has rendered many of the autistic people to reconsider integrating with society out of fear of being ridiculed and shunned (Dillenburger, et al., 2015). Autism from a societal perspective is considered a weakness and therefore, individuals seeking help is a further manifestation of their weakness (John, et al., 2018). The available medical assistance on the other hand stands out to be costly not to mention the cost of education and overall integration of people with autism.
Parents in the past because of the poor social views bout autism were forced to opt for home-schooling or consider taking their children to specialized schools which were and still are expensive for many. The influence of the society has been severe enough to render many of the affected families to consider options that would otherwise not expose them to society. Practically, with the consideration against seeking assistance, many of the autistic cases remain managed from homes in terms of education while access to professional attention is also affected (Hull, et al., 2017). Therefore, it stands out to show that the social perspectives borne by society about different mental health issues and disorders like autism plays a relevant role in impacting the welfare of the affected persons and their immediate families as well.
Modern society has been exposed to more information associated with mental health issues and disorders and therefore, by extension, more information about autism and its spectrum. The initial stance was associated with autism being perceived as taboo following the poor understanding of mental health disorders. The consequences arising from this misconstrued information was further unverified beliefs and discussions on means of managing autism. The lack of adequate and verifiable information further led to the affected families to reconsider seeking the relevant assistance and help that would otherwise have been relevant in facilitating the healthy development of children and adults with autism. Additionally, it has often been the position with a majority of society that autistic patients do not have a voice of their own and therefore, are incapable of making decisions that would affect their overall well-being. The ethical considerations associated with autism thus provide a more detailed approach toward understanding autism as a mental health disorder but also the impact that society is bound to have on the overall health and well-being of the affected persons.
It is important to note that, the complexity associated with autism does not necessarily present a drawback to the abilities of the autistic persons. On the contrary, there have been various cases of autistic individuals getting along in modern society and engaging in activities that would have been considered impossible for them in the past (Schneid & Raz, 2020). The societal views have been a limiting factor for a long time and as a consequence, many of the children who grew up with autism were secluded from much of the social activities out of society’s misconstrued fears. Autistic children grow up into adults who can take care of themselves when they receive the appropriate guidance and assistance when they are young (Schneid & Raz, 2020). Therefore, the shunning of people with autism and limiting their abilities to their disorder is part of the issue that impacts mental health negatively.
While it may be argued that the lack of information and knowledge has been a contributing factor, there have been misguiding scientific research associated with vaccinations and the causes of autism (Fombonne, 2020). The misguided provisions that vaccinations have the capacity to cause autism in children resulted in several parents including parents to autistic children from ensuring that their children were duly vaccinated (Fombonne, 2020) It is from these various presentations of poor information that families with persons with autism in particular would prefer working through things on their own as opposed to seeking assistance. Medical ethics in this regard would also be questionable following the poorly conducted research that did not present factual findings concerning autism (John et al., 2018). In this perspective, the ethical considerations toward understanding autism would be vested in the acquisition of verified information from reliable sources as opposed to the misconceptions that are spread by the general society about the occurrence of autism.
Ethical Principles and Concepts
Autistic people are not very different from other people with the exception of their mental disorder. While it may be considered as a limiting factor, autism does not necessarily mean that the affected person cannot do anything or is weak. On the contrary, there have been several accounts of autistic children and adults being well-versed in different disciplines ranging from art, science, mathematics and even social skills (Graf, et al., 2017). The abilities bestowed upon those with autism are similar to the people without autism thus making them as human as every other person (Kapp, et al., 2019). It is true however, that there are activities that may be too profound for autistic people to perform but that does not mean that they should be shunned from all other activities on basis of their mental disorder.
Treating autistic persons with equality is an important aspect and ethical consideration as well. In essence, it requires society to first understand the facts behind the occurrence of autism and the different manifestations of the spectrum. It is from the basis of this understanding that autistic people would have a fair chance at being included instead of being viewed from the lens of their disorder only (Graf, et al., 2017). There is more to the autistic person than their mental health abilities. The equal treatment would suffice in encouraging inclusion and integration that will be useful in removing the social barriers imposed by society’s stigmatization (Kapp, et al., 2019). The elimination of the barriers and equal treatment would thus encourage the families and next of kin of the autistic persons to receive all the relevant help needed to help with the management of autism.
Additionally, implementing the principle of nonmaleficence when interacting with people with autism would be relevant in providing a safe space for the individuals with autism. In the recent past, there was a case of law enforcement officers being aggressive with an adolescent with autism in California (Burke, 2021). Understanding the nature of autism and its manifestations is therefore relevant in not only affording the people respect but also treating them fairly. In most cases, it is from the lack of understanding that a majority of the families with members suffering from autism avoid public spaces. However, implementing justice and respect in society may be sufficient in changing the narrative for many autistic people (Graf, et al., 2017). Safer environments provide more room for better social development and better management of autism altogether. In this understanding, society still has a long way to go with respect to the reduction of stigma and overall understanding of the management of autism as a mental health disorder.
The society’s view of mental health issues and disorders plays a significant role in influencing the decisions made about seeking help and finding the relevant amenities that support people with autism. The influence has been significantly detrimental with regard to families with autistic children and adults finding it difficult to integrate or socialize with the outside settings limiting them to family members. The misconstrued information and beliefs about autism have been significant in secluding many autistic people from different social gatherings and overall opportunities. Society’s influence has been relevant in the determination of whether children with autism attend schools or are better off being homeschooled. However, changes associated with the understanding of mental health presents an opportunity for better development and interactions between people with autism and the general public. Continued awareness about autism and its spectrum has been relevant in opening discussions about how best to integrate with people with mental disorders. While more still needs to be done to eliminate the stigma and social barriers, autism is better understood today and there are more opportunities for autistic people.
Burke, M. (2021). Father says son with autism was slammed to ground, punched by officer. NBC News (April 24, 2021) https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/father-says-son-autism-was-slammed-ground-punched-officer-n1265142
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