Does society violate autistic people’s human rights?

I know this controversial title, but I wouldn’t be writing this statement if I didn’t think it had any credibility, but sadly, I think it does. 

Now I’ve talked a lot about my experiences before, and I’ve had many other conversations with autistics about the injustices they’ve experienced due to society not understanding their autism. The overwhelming majority has been negative, and I’ve heard too many horror stories that it got me thinking, are autistic people even treated as humans?

So what are human rights?

The official definition of human rights is 

‘Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all 

members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.’

United Nations- Universal Declaration of Human Rights 

The United Nations (UN) has its Universal Declaration of Human Rights with 32 articles. I won’t go through them all 32, but some stood out to me and how I feel many autistic people are denied these particular articles relating to their human rights. 

Article 3 

Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.”

Autistic people are often denied the right to live with Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) orders imposed on them without consent in the UK. Autistic people are also sectioned, for simply being autistic and for no other reason, thus being deprived of their liberty for simply being themselves. We’re more vulnerable to abuse and bullying, so I wouldn’t say we have the security we need either. 

Article 5 

‘No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.’ 

Too often, autistic people’s meltdowns are filmed and put on the internet without their consent, and others profit from watching their suffering. Not to mention the historical routes of ABA, yet it is still considered the gold standard by the “autism industry.”

It’s clear some autistics are subjected to torture, inhuman, degrading treatment, and unjust punishment. 

Article 22 

“Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.” 

From what I mentioned above, it is pretty clear that dignity is something many autistic people are denied. We’re limited to participate in society from work to social events. So many don’t have the freedom of social and cultural rights and the freedom to develop their personality. 

Article 23

  1. “Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
  2. Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
  3. Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.”

As it widely reported, autistic people have the lowest full-time employment rate, the highest among any disabled group in the UK. Also, stateside, it’s entirely legal to pay disabled workers a sub-minimum wage, and undoubtedly autistic people are a part of this group. For autistic people who don’t work, PIP can be incredibly hard to claim and access. We don’t have equal access to jobs, pay and cover the costs of simply existing. 

Article 26 

“Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.”

Don’t even get me started on how autistic people are treated in education! As mentioned in relation to some of the articles above, autistic people have an awful experience in education. However, autistic people are excluded from school at a higher rate and the difficulties many families have accessing the right education for their autistic children. 

As you can see, there are sadly many ways that our society does not respect autistic people’s human rights. When we look at these issues in relation to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights with the UN, it’s clear there is a hell of a long way to go. 

What do you think? Do you agree that autistic people’s human rights are being violated, or do you feel there are any I’ve missed out on? I’d love to hear your comments below on this vital issue! 

If you enjoyed this post, like to support my writing, I would be forever grateful if you could buy me a coffee (or tea in my case).

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