Barriers faced by immigrant families of children with autism: A program to address the challenges

Biruntha Sritharan, Maju Mathew Koola
Asian Journal of Psychiatry 2018 December 8, 39: 53-57
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a pervasive neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by social, communication, and behavioral deficits. Fortunately, early intervention has proved to be of significant benefit in the lives of children with ASD. However, timely access to health services and support requires equitable access, which is often a challenge for immigrant families. Barriers to equal access and support for immigrant families of children with ASD include cultural beliefs about child development and ASD, delayed diagnosis, access to services, and negative perceptions of services. There is a shortage of studies that explore how to increase understanding and collaboration among the immigrant population and health care practitioners to address these barriers. The barriers can indeed be appropriately addressed with structured programs and cultural models. The objectives of this article are to shed light on how barriers impact outcomes of immigrant children with ASD and to describe a culturally sensitive program model to address the barriers and provide awareness, education, and interventions for these immigrant families. The South Asian Autism Awareness Center in Toronto, Canada is presented as an example of such a model.


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