Ever wondered how different cultures and nationalities from varied regions, deal with children on the autism spectrum? Just what is Autism Around the World like? Let’s jump in to see what resources are available for autistic individuals based on country.
Autism Around the World
Autism spectrum disorder is a broad range of conditions; characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech, and nonverbal communication.
There is no known single cause for autism spectrum disorder. Research suggests that these delays develop from a combination of genetic, nongenetic, and environmental influences.
With it being the kickoff of World Autism Awareness Month, our friends at Meditourz would like to throw light on some global insights on Autism around the globe!
Autism Around the World: In America
The Center for Disease Control has reported that 1 in 54 children have Autism in America. While the gap in this number is closing in, many still go without a proper diagnosis.
The government also played a role in making the world a better place for these children. In the year 2013, 13 American states give grants. Nine of them were state implementation grants and four state planning ones. This was done to improve access to holistic, planned health care and support services for children and youth with Autism and other developmental disabilities.
In 2011, planning grants were added as an additional strategy to help states that had limited resources and structure in place to improve autism services. Also, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) invested approximately $186 million in research on ASD in the year 2013.
In America, children on the Spectrum are entitled to receive additional services and accommodations through the public sector schools as well. As a result, every child gets free and appropriate education, in the best possible available environment. There are three federal laws in place to ensure this. Below are the same
- The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) (1975)
- Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
- The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) (1990)
Room for Growth
Research shows Latino families faced additional issues when looking into the resources for their children. Many of these families struggle to find the right diagnosis. Likewise, they also face stigmas around the topic, and isolation from their family and community. Additionally, reasons were low economic resources, lack of awareness, a feeling of disempowerment, and low English proficiency.
Autism Around the World: In Europe
According to ASDEU, 1 in 89 children in Europe are Autistic. Europe has come up with various policies for the inclusion of these children in education systems. This happens without discrimination and gives opportunity to a spot in the workplace as adults.
The same grant will increase the comprehension of autism spectrum disorder. Similarly. it will help come up with new therapies to improve health outcomes and quality of life for autistic people in Europe.
Training Program for Educators
The French Institute for inclusive education, INSHEA, and the Nouvelle École Farny in Geneva, Switzerland, have conceptualized a training program for special educators working with children on the Spectrum.
It is a free, open access and self-service platform for educators, teachers, and other individuals working with such kind of children and their families. Similarly, Alison, an Irish based company, also offers online courses on special needs children.
Autism In Africa
In contrast to other countries, a lack of awareness prevails in the African region. A lot of children go undiagnosed as Africans lack autism awareness. At times, Autistic individuals are left in isolation, tied up, chained, or locked away. Activists are trying to increase awareness in this region.
Many of these children go without the right therapy, support, and infrastructure to cope with these disabilities. South African government does have a care dependency grant for children with disabilities. However, this grant is for those children who need full-time attention and special care only.
Autism Around the World: In Asia
Within Asia there are three areas: South East Asia, South Asia, and the Middle East. Each location have different resources and views. Therefore, we will look at each one individually.
Southeast Asia plays an active role in the research of Autism Spectrum Disorder. In the past, research primarily occurs in Shanghai, Japan, and Vietnam. Studies also show that Malaysia has more than 3,00,00 autistic individuals, Singapore has 50,000 and Philippines 6,38,000.
Autism awareness in this region has grown over time. The ASEAN Autism Network, an organization to support individuals with Autism in the ASEAN countries, unite to develop programs for individuals on the Spectrum and their extended families.
They also host ASEAN autistic games wherein children on the Spectrum compete in various athletics. Through personal insights, we have also seen the Thai region being very inclusive with children on the Spectrum. They have dedicated associations for multiple disabilities.
The biggest one Meditourz works within the Thai area is the Autistic Thai Foundation, This organization is funded and supported by the government for the development of these children in the region.
The Thai culture also considers special needs children as a gift of God and love them immensely, which is not very prevalent in other areas.
South Asia’s current rates are 1 in 500 children on the Spectrum. However, a large number of children lack proper diagnosis nor receive the services they need. Lack of awareness & misconceptions amongst individuals are some common reasons. This is more common in remote villages.
In contrast, the major metropolitan cities have a different scenario. Autism awareness occurs through international exposure and media.
There is an urgent need to have more services and planned infrastructure for children on the Spectrum in South Asia. Children on the Spectrum are still not recognized to have a separate disability in the Person with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights & Full Participation) Act, 1995. This is the primary legislation that provides the rights and benefits for persons with disabilities in India.
Many stigmas exist against disabilities in South Asia. Some of the common ones being shame, embarrassment, concerns about inadequate parenting.
However, there has been some light as advocacy movements that have succeeded in the inclusion of Autism in the National Trust Bill under the National Trust of Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation & Multiple Disabilities Act of 1999.
The Middle East
The Middle East, as a region, is often unkind to disabilities. A stigma and history exist that ensures families hide their special needs children from the public eye. These hidden individuals led to the belief of nonexistence. This also leads to a barrier in awareness as everything happened in closed doors.
Mothers also often feared to talk about their children or exposing them to the real world. They felt that their husbands would leave them or marry another lady who is a common practice in this region.
Additionally, females with any disability are more likely to be stigmatized and institutionalized than males with a disability. Culturally, there is a belief that these women could not marry nor bear children.
Several females with disabilities are often not officially registered in municipal records. As a result, This creates an ongoing barrier to education and employment in this region.
Other common characteristics of Arab culture contributed to high levels of disability, such as the rate of consanguineous marriages, higher maternal and paternal age, large family sizes, armed conflicts, and terrorism.
Culturally, Arabs have also felt having a child with a disability is a test or punishment of God.
Autism in Australia
1 in 50 children have been diagnosed with Autism in Australia according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Survey of Disability, Ageing, and Carers (SDAC),
The Helping Children with Autism Access to Diagnosis and Treatment Plan is written by Paediatrician or Psychiatrist in Australia. This plan provides four appointments for private diagnosis and 20 sessions with an Allied Health Professional.
Children are also eligible for a carer loan & a health care card if they cannot support themselves or need medicines & transport at concessional rates.
The Helping Children with Autism (HCWA) package is an Australian Government initiative that provides support for children 0-6 years with ASD, their families, and carers. The Federal Government introduced the box in October 2008. Each eligible child receives $12,000 to spend on approved early intervention services.
Making a Change
The Australian government has also been beneficial in putting together a database of childcare, kindergarten, early intervention childcare centers, and schools for these children.
Likewise, they have also helped parents with support groups wherein they can discuss their concerns & problems and share their insights. The National Disability Coordination Program provides individuals with disabilities training for employment & employment assistance in the labor markets.
Australia also held a Special Education Technology Needs (SETN) conference in Sydney. Here, Kieran Nolan, an ICT technician at Wooranna Park Primary School in Dandenong North, ran a session on engaging and motivating special needs students with immersive technologies.
They saw great success with students on the Spectrum that used a virtual-reality headset. These students virtually travel around the entire solar system and learn about each planet as they visited them.