Participants read a very brief educational message describing Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) as a developmental disability or neurodiverse identity. Participants who read the neurodiverse identity message were significantly more likely to endorse an entity/fixed mindset about autistic individuals, perceiving them as less likely to change over time. Educational message did not significantly affect social distance towards individuals with ASD, perceived importance of workplace accommodations for individuals with ASD, or perceived ability of individuals with ASD to possess or learn employability skills. These results suggest that the neurodiversity framework could be at risk for misinterpretation by the general population. Future research should carefully consider how to design public education campaigns that promote respect and appreciation for autistic differences, without potentially triggering an entity/fixed mindset about autistic capabilities.
• Points of interest
• In this study, participants read a very brief message describing Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) as a developmental disability or a neurodiversity.
• Participants who read the neurodiversity message were more likely to perceive autistic individuals as being fixed or unlikely to change over time.
• The type of message didn’t affect participants’ willingness to interact with individuals with ASD, the degree to which they viewed workplace accommodations to be important for individuals with ASD, or their perceptions that individuals with ASD had or could learn new employability skills.
• Public education campaigns should aim to promote respect and appreciation for autistic individuals, while also encouraging a mindset of growth and development for all individuals.