Learn about legislation affecting the rights of autistic people within social care, employment and the criminal justice system.

Scales and gavel, representing justice and the law
  • Duration

    4 weeks
  • Weekly study

    3 hours
  • 100% online

    How it works
  • Included in an ExpertTrack

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Understand the rights of autistic people

This four-week course will provide an overview of legislation affecting various aspects of autistic people’s lives. The course aims to amplify and uplift autistic voices, exploring the power dynamics at play in advocating for the rights of autistic people.

Using examples from UK and worldwide legislation, you’ll examine the impact of policy on autistic rights, in the contexts of social care, social inclusion, and employment.

With the knowledge you gain, you’ll be able to implement good practice and contribute to improving the lives of autistic people in these key areas.

Learn how to improve social inclusion and enhance social care for autistic people

Focussing on issues surrounding social care and social inclusion, you’ll consider the quality of care received by autistic people.

You’ll begin to reflect on best practices and ways of improving social care.

Explore the experience of autistic people in the criminal justice system

In the final phase of the course, you’ll investigate the experiences of autistic people who come into contact with the criminal justice system, whether as offenders or as victims of crime.

You’ll explore how autistic differences can influence the treatment people receive, and consider best practices for supporting autistic people within justice systems.

Over the four weeks of the course, your learning will be guided by autistic and non-autistic academics at the University of Kent, who’ll share their expertise on legal issues impacting the lives of autistic people.


  • Week 1


    • The Autistic Voice

      In this activity we consider the importance of the autistic voice and invite you to share your own experiences. Image by Garry Knight, https://www.flickr.com/photos/garryknight/, CC BY 2.0

    • Autistic perspectives

      We’ve considered how important it is to include autistic perspectives - but how do we actually do this in practice? In this activity we explore some ways to include autistic perspectives in different forms of practice.

    • Stakeholders

      Here we look at the various stakeholders and consider the dynamics between them. Image by Nick Youngson, http://www.nyphotographic.com/, from Alpha Stock Images http://alphastockimages.com/, CC BY-SA 3.0

  • Week 2

    Legislation, social inclusion, and employment

    • Social care legislation

      In this section we will be looking at social care legislation. Image by Nick Youngson, http://www.nyphotographic.com, from Alpha Stock Images http://alphastockimages.com/, CC BY-SA 3.0

    • Employment and social inclusion

      In this section we learn more about autistic people's rights in relation to employment and social inclusion. Image: Innov8social, https://www.flickr.com/photos/44313045@N08/, CC BY 2.0

    • Case study

      To complete Week 2 we present a case study. Image: 'At the movies' by B. de los Arcos, https://flickr.com/photos/welikesharing/, CC BY 2.0

  • Week 3

    Autistic offenders

    • Autistic people and crime

      Is ther any link between being autistic and the likelihood of offending? We discuss neurodiversity and moral responsibility and learn more about autistic offenders. Image: Klaus with K, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

    • The Criminal Justice System

      UK policy relating to autistic people in the Criminal Justice System & different perspectives of how it is applied in practice. Image: “Law scales on table” by Jernej Furman, https://www.flickr.com/photos/91261194@N06/, CC BY 2.0

    • Improving the system

      In this section we learn about how the Criminal Justice System could be improved for autistic offenders and reflect on what we have learned this week.

  • Week 4

    Autistic victims of crime

    • Issues affecting autistic victims of crime

      We discuss hate crime, whether autistic people should be seen as vulnerable, and what happens when autistic people witness crime. Image by Rebecca Barray, https://www.flickr.com/photos/rebeccabarray/, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

    • Lived experiences

      What is it like when things go wrong in the Criminal Justice System? In this activity, we examine three case studies. Please note that this content describes experiences of injustice that people may find distressing.

    • Looking forward

      How might things be iproved for autistic people coming into contact with the justice system?

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Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Identify legislation relevent to different aspects of autistic people's lives
  • Describe the power-dynamics involved in advocating for autistic rights
  • Critique the impact of policy on autistic rights in the context of social care, employment and social inclusion
  • Discuss the experiences of autistic people who come into contact with the Criminal Justice System
  • Explain how autistic differences impact on how autistic people are treated within the Criminal Justice System
  • Apply what you have learned about good practice to improve the lives of autistic people

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for anyone interested in supporting the rights of autistic people and learning more about their experiences.

It will be particularly valuable for autistic people, their family members, or professionals advocating on behalf of autistic people.

Who will you learn with?

Dr Jill Bradshaw is a Senior Lecturer in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and a Speech/Language Therapist -Tizard Centre, University of Kent. She has been working in this field for 25 year

Who developed the course?

The University of Kent

The University of Kent, the UK’s European university, is one of the country’s most dynamic universities. Established in 1965, it now has 19,850 students studying at its various campuses.

About this ExpertTrack

Increase your understanding of autistic people through an exploration of autistic experiences in key areas.

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