Send to

Choose Destination
Cult Med Psychiatry. 2015 Mar;39(1):62-74. doi: 10.1007/s11013-015-9440-0.

"Maybe at birth there was an injury": drivers and implications of caretaker explanatory models of autistic characteristics in Kerala, India.

Author information

Emory University, Atlanta, GA, USA,


Explanatory models (EMs) are the way people explain the presence and meaning of an illness or disability and are reliant on and reflective of culturally specific values of normalcy, disability, health, and illness. EMs about autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are particularly revealing because there is no known cause, and so people can explain this disability in ways more appropriate for and useful to them. This article presents caretaker EMs about children with autistic characteristics in Kerala, India. I argue that the reliance on biological, but not genetic, causal models is reflective of the state's high access to biomedical heath care. These EMs are used to deflect the stigma of 'bad blood' and reflect a nuanced relationship between stigma and biological EMs. Understanding how caretakers talk about ASD and related conditions is critical for anyone interested in engaging in crosscultural or international autism-related work.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Springer
Loading ...
Support Center