Diagnoses of ASD, treatments, and experiences vary greatly at a global level. The Autism Rights Movement has, many times, argued that autism should be viewed as a type of neurodiversity and treated as such. In some cases, it has been noted that such empathy towards these children of determination has been observed to comparatively be lesser in developing nations.
This is due to the diverse cultural factors and the myths created about autism which might deter people from seeking help, like from an ABA therapy center. Plus, information that may be helpful for one person might not entirely work out for the other.
The World Health Organization (WHO) projects their justified concern through various studies; one of which is that cultural factors can potentially lead to health disparities in the recognition of, and diagnostic assessment and treatment for autistic children of determination, especially with regards to ethnic minorities. At the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) 2014, Mandell and Novak have argued that investigation of cultural factors in research related to diagnosing Autism Spectrum Disorder should mainly focus on studying families’ cultural views and beliefs pertaining to the causes of their child’s disability, which may create barriers to said diagnoses.
We at Small Steps Big Dreams in Dubai, UAE, have previously mentioned autism-related matters strictly within Dubai. In this article, we’ve compiled a small list to present how various cultural factors influence ASD diagnosis and treatment, so as to comprehend the global impact of external influences and behaviors to improve our own approach.
Research, studied by our team for the improvement of autistic child treatment in Dubai, shows that socioeconomic status has yielded conflicting results for individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and severe intellectual disabilities (ID). Recent European studies suggest that, unlike reports from the United States, low socioeconomic status is associated with an increased risk of ASD. For intellectual disabilities, the links with socioeconomic status vary according to the severity.
In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), autism is still under-diagnosed and overlooked. Despite government efforts, there isn’t accurate statistical data available on the number of people diagnosed with autism in the UAE. Many of the autism centres in Dubai are operating at full capacity and have long waiting lists. Most of the children diagnosed with ASD, do not attend schools because their families cannot afford the school fees.
Beliefs and Values:
Dr Syed Hashim Raza, a consultant paediatrician and specialist in neurodevelopment and neurodisability at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) has said in a statement that there is a stigma attached to the word, “disability.” It is often taken as a predominantly mental impairment within Pakistan. The question here is what leads to this cultural and social mindset? For now, what’s clear is that this negative frame of thought is prevalent within the most modern realm of the society, as well as within the rural demographics of Pakistan.
In some Eastern countries, there are cases where society has shunned families dealing with ASD; assuming that the family must be undergoing punishment for their sins to have had an autistic child.
The Latinos are known for raising a family in terms of self-sacrifice or charity. As a result, the positive perception and the increased number of family members involved in childcare shows a decrease in the amount of depression in Latino mothers of autistic children. However, because families tend to rely too much on one another, this can be a detriment to the successful treatment of ASD, as they don’t seek medical help.
In recent years, racial and ethnic-based discrimination have been magnified in our society.
Our research on autistic children of determination shows that, in the last decade, a black and Hispanic autistic child is more likely than a white child to experience undiagnosed autism, or to have it diagnosed at a much later time. The minorities are less likely to receive special care related to autism, according to a 2013 study we found. It claimed that spending on white children with autism was roughly 20% higher than on black and Hispanic autistic children.
The Impact of Culture
Culture does shape our thoughts, even towards those with the universal condition of ASD. Specialists need to be careful in their diagnoses of autism children of determination, paying heed to the pattern of behavior all over the world, a highlight of which was discussed above. One must understand what’s most important to and for the autistic individual, as a treatment plan is established.