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Immigrant Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: The Relationship between the Perspective of the Professionals and the Parents' Point of View.

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Bahiana School of Medicine and Public Health, Interdisciplinary Laboratory in Autism Research (LABIRINTO), Salvador, Bahia, Brazil.


in English, French


The purpose of this study was to compare a medical diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) with the perceptions of immigrant parents regarding their child's difficulties.


Semistructured interviews were conducted with parents. The children were assessed using the ADOS, and a multiaxial diagnosis was reached using the DSM-IV.


The majority of parents recognized symptoms in their child that were related to autism. Less often, however, parents believed their children had a developmental delay or communication problem rather than an ASD. There were also parents who failed to see any problem at all in their child although the child was, nonetheless, diagnosed as having an ASD.


The failure of immigrant mothers to acknowledge a diagnosis of ASD in their younger children may represent an attempt to preserve hope for their child's future. Mothers of older children may not, however, agree with the psychiatric diagnosis. Community services need to balance the need to convey accurate medical information with the need to protect parents' investment in their children. This may be particularly true for immigrant parents who are living outside their cultural framework.


autism; diagnosis; immigrant; parents; perceptions; qualitative


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