Understanding parents' and professionals' knowledge and awareness of autism in Nepal

Michelle Heys*, Amy Alexander, Emilie Medeiros, Kirti M. Tumbahangphe, Felicity Gibbons, Rita Shrestha, Mangala Manandhar, Mary Wickenden, Merina Shrestha, Anthony Costello, Dharma Manandhar, Elizabeth Pellicano

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Autism is a global phenomenon. Yet, there is a dearth of knowledge of how it is understood and its impact in low-income countries. We examined parents' and professionals' understanding of autism in one low-income country, Nepal. We conducted focus groups and semi-structured interviews with parents of autistic and non-autistic children and education and health professionals from urban and rural settings (n = 106), asking questions about typical and atypical development and presenting vignettes of children to prompt discussion. Overall, parents of typically developing children and professionals had little explicit awareness of autism. They did, however, use some distinctive terms to describe children with autism from children with other developmental conditions. Furthermore, most participants felt that environmental factors, including in-utero stressors and birth complications, parenting style and home or school environment were key causes of atypical child development and further called for greater efforts to raise awareness and build community capacity to address autism. This is the first study to show the striking lack of awareness of autism by parents and professionals alike. These results have important implications for future work in Nepal aiming both to estimate the prevalence of autism and to enhance support available for autistic children and their families.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)436-449
Number of pages14
JournalAutism
Volume21
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2017
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • autism
  • child development
  • focus group
  • low-income country
  • qualitative

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Understanding parents' and professionals' knowledge and awareness of autism in Nepal'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this