Understanding autism
Understanding autism

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Understanding autism

4.3 The effects of stigma

Even when parents are aware that their child has a problem, shame or fear of societal stigma may deter them from seeking appropriate help. For instance, in South Korean culture, some consider autism to be a ‘genetic taint’, which diminishes the marriage prospects of other children in the family. Parents may be reluctant to come forward, or may seek a diagnosis of ‘Reactive attachment disorder’, which implicates the mother’s behaviour in causing the child’s difficulties (Grinker et al., 2011).

Yet, as Dr Perepa explains, the role of stigma in explaining different rates of diagnosis across ethnic groups is complex and requires more research.

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Stigma around autism could be one of the contributory factors which differentiates ethnic groups. But again, when you look at Asian communities where there's low incidence of autism there people identified less often compared to African, Afro-Caribbean backgrounds. Some of the stigma issues are really still the same. So from both sets of families that I work with still talk about things like generational curse or having a child with autism as the implication that you must have committed some sin kind of thing. And that's as prevalent in Asian communities as an African communities. So while that might be a contributory factor, I don't think that's the only reason why families are not accessing services or people are not being identified with autism from Asian communities compared to Afro-Caribbean or white British communities.
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We will return to the global perspective in Week 8.


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