The following is a summary of “A mixed method examination: how stigma experienced by autistic adults relates to metrics of social identity and social functioning,” published in the October 2023 issue of Psychiatry by Marion et al.
Half of autistic adults experience victimization, including bullying and stigma, which can impact self-esteem and other aspects of social identity. Researchers performed a retrospective study to examine the relationship between stigma and social identity functioning in autistic adults.
The study investigated three aspects of self-reported stigma (discrimination, disclosure, and positive aspects) concerning their association with self-esteem, self-efficacy, social satisfaction, and adaptive social functioning within a group of 45 young adults with autism.
The result demonstrated that quantitative analysis indicated that higher reported discrimination and disclosure-related stigma levels were linked to lower self-efficacy, social satisfaction, and self-esteem. Qualitative interviews with eight autistic young adults further revealed that these experiences of stigma often manifested as exclusion, isolation, and verbal bullying. As reported by the participants, many negative interactions were attributed to educators, peers, and family members. These encounters were seen as direct factors contributing to reduced social satisfaction, decreased self-efficacy, and diminished self-esteem.
The study found understanding stigma’s negative impact can inform autism awareness and acceptance efforts.