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The role of culture in families' treatment decisions for children with autism spectrum disorders.

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Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, 19104, USA.


There is little information available about how and why parents of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) make decisions regarding which of the many available treatments to implement with their children. Given the lack of available information regarding treatment efficacy, it is likely that parents' beliefs about child development, interpretation of the symptoms of ASD, its etiology and course, and their experiences with the health system influence treatment decisions. This article addresses these issues within the context of cultural influences. We review the small body of existing literature regarding cultural influences on decisions regarding ASD and draw implications for the study and treatment of ASD from the larger body of literature on culture and other health conditions of childhood. In addition to examining the potential for differences in clinical presentation by culture and different experiences with the healthcare system, we use Kleinman's framework of questions for understanding the role of culture in the interpretation and treatment of ASD. These questions address interpretation of symptoms and beliefs about their cause, course, and treatment. Finally, we present specific language for clinicians to use in discussion with families with different cultural beliefs about the use of less traditional treatment strategies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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