Creating an Inclusive Society… How Close are We in Relation to Autism Spectrum Disorder? A General Population Survey

Karola Dillenburger*, Lynne McKerr, Julie Ann Jordan, Paula Devine, Mickey Keenan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
3357 Downloads (Pure)


BackgroundChildren with autism spectrum disorder are increasingly educated in mainstream classrooms in the United Kingdom (Wilkinson & Twist, Autism and Educational Assessment: UK Policy and Practice. NFER, Slough, 2010), and some employers are now specifically seeking out staff on the autism spectrum. Does that mean that we are living in an inclusive society' [United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), Creating an Inclusive Society: Practical Strategies to Promote Social Integration 2008], in the sense that inequalities are reduced and full economic, social and cultural participation is advanced for individuals with autism?

MethodsA general population survey was conducted to assess how close we, as a society, are to an inclusive society for individuals with autism in Northern Ireland. Public attitudes were examined to (i) visibility and social interaction, (ii) aetiology, needs and interventions, and (iii) rights and resources.

ResultsA stratified, representative sample of 1204 adults took part in the survey; of these, 989 were aware of autism and their attitudes and behavioural projections reflected a mix of acceptance and denunciation. The level of confusion with regard to interventions reflected the general uncertainty within UK policy regarding meeting the needs of individuals on the autism spectrum (International Journal of Disability, Development and Education 61, 134, 2014a).

ConclusionTherefore, it seems that inclusion is working to an extent, but more clarity is needed with regard to adequate education, intervention and support for individuals with autism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)330-340
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities
Issue number4
Early online date25 Mar 2015
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2015


  • Autism
  • population survey
  • inclusion,
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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