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JMIR Pediatr Parent. 2018 Nov 15;1(2):e11402. doi: 10.2196/11402.

Telehealth Services for Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders in Rural Areas of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: Overview and Recommendations.

Author information

1
Centre for Autism Research, King Faisal Specialist Hospital & Research Centre, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
#
Contributed equally

Abstract

Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are the most-prevalent neurodevelopmental disorders. However, each child diagnosed with ASD presents with a unique range of behavioral and communication problems and issues with social skills. Many studies have highlighted the importance of early interventions for children with ASD to improve their skills and provide their families with the necessary support. However, in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), the earliest that a child with ASD in the major cities receives an intervention is at the age of 4 years, owing to limited services and a lack of awareness of the importance and benefits of early interventions. Families who live in rural areas of KSA arguably have a greater need for these services, as they have to travel to cities such as Riyadh for help. The use of telehealth services may be effective for ASD intervention among children living in rural areas, since such services use technology to provide consultations, interventions, diagnosis, training, and education. Research indicates that telehealth services are as valuable as traditional face-to-face treatment, allow families to obtain support from their homes, and help them improve their quality of life. This review will discuss the application of telehealth services to support families in rural areas of KSA who are dealing with issues of ASD, considering the cultural and religious contexts. In addition, it will examine ways in which technology can be employed to suit KSA's culture and needs.

KEYWORDS:

Saudi Arabia; autism spectrum disorders; intervention; telehealth

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