Sociocultural Barriers to Early Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder

Anum Farooq , Shoaib Ahmed


Objective: To qualitatively explore community, family, and health care system barriers to early diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in children.
Study Design: A phenomenological qualitative approach was used to explore mothers’ experiences of receiving ASD diagnosis for their children.
Place and Duration of Study: The study was conducted at Autism Resource Centre Islamabad, from March 2018 to August 2018.
Materials and Methods: In-depth qualitative interviews of eight mothers of children diagnosed with ASD, who were above 36 months of age.
Results: Using thematic analysis, three major themes were identified as barriers in reaching ASD diagnosis i.e. parent’s lack of knowledge and misperceptions of ASD; health care system issues like undefined pathway to care, dissatisfaction with medical or associated professionals, delays due to structural and process barriers; and family factors such as stigma around mental health and disability, family denial and financial constraints.
Conclusion: Additional educational outreach to families, de-stigmatization of ASD, streamlining the ASD diagnostic process, and providing additional support to parents of at-risk children may decrease delays in ASD diagnosis among children.

Key Words: Autism Spectrum Disorder, Early Diagnosis, Sociocultural Barriers.

How to cite this: Farooq A, Ahmed S.  Sociocultural Barriers to Early Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Life and Science. 2020; 1(4): 139-144  .  doi:

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