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Autism. 2011 Jan;15(1):83-97. doi: 10.1177/1362361309354756. Epub 2010 Sep 27.

The autism diagnostic experiences of French parents.

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Université Paris Descartes and INSERM, Université Paris Descartes, France.


This survey focused on French parents' views of the diagnostic process relating to their child with autism. Data were collected on the age at diagnosis, the time taken to obtain a diagnosis and the difficulties encountered. Questionnaires filled in by the parents (n = 248) and in-depth interviews (n = 43) were analyzed in order to obtain quantitative and qualitative results. The ages of the children ranged from 4 to 45. This approach enabled us to compare the practices of professionals now and in the past. The mean age of diagnosis was 10 ± 8 years from 1960 to 1990, 5 ± 3 years from 1990 to 2005 (3 ± 1 from 2003 to 2005). The results showed that the mean delays between first consultation and diagnosis were reduced. Regarding the way the diagnosis was announced, 63% of the parents of children with autism and 93% of the parents of adults with autism were dissatisfied. We discuss the parents' reactions and the changes in the diagnostic process.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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