Parents of autistic children face many challenges, but those of African-American decent encounter even greater obstacles. African-American children are statistically far less likely to receive an autism diagnosis. Further complicating matters are the complex racial divides in the United States today. For example, imagine attempting to teach your autistic black son how to interact with police and having absolutely no guidance.
Individuals with autism who end up embroiled in the criminal justice system often find themselves not only brutalized by police because of law enforcement’s failure to recognize and understand autism, but also severely punished if they end up in prison. Some are even re-victimized because of mental health illnesses that result from traumatizing experiences associated with their incarceration. For many, particularly children, the penchant to place incarcerated individuals with autism in solitary confinement—either for their own safety or as punishment for perceived misbehavior—raises concerns under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution and may amount to a breach of the international prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.