Mainstream media is a common source of information on mental health, and its portrayal of mental disorders can influence public perceptions and stigmatisation. Recently, autism has received increased attention in mainstream media. This scoping review aims to contribute to the existing literature on the portrayal of autism and its stigmatising effect by mapping the characteristics and range of records that describe the representation of autism in mainstream media with a focus on non-fiction media (newspapers and social media) and fiction media (movies & TV, and literature). We extracted 31 articles from PubMed and PsychInfo, as well as conducting secondary searches, covering articles published between 2010 and 2022, with a time frame of media from 1988 to 2022. Most of the articles focused on newspapers and movies & TV. Our findings suggest that while the portrayal of autism in media varies, stigmatisation is most prominent in newspapers and movies & TV, often with a negative tone and stereotypical portrayal such as savantism. One possible reason for this could be the lack of representation of experts by experience in these media outlets. In contrast, our review found that literature often has a more diverse and positive representation, and social media tends to have a more supportive tone. Our recommendation is that autistic individuals should be included in the content creation process. Furthermore, future research should focus on newer forms of media, particularly social media, where self-representation is more common, and investigate how this affects the portrayal and stigmatisation of autism.
|Publication status||Published - 22 Jul 2023|