From symptom recognition to diagnosis: children with autism in urban India

Soc Sci Med. 2004 Apr;58(7):1323-35. doi: 10.1016/S0277-9536(03)00330-7.


The period of time between initial recognition of a symptom and initial diagnosis warrants examination because it can serve as a window into broader cultural factors and allow for more immediate treatment. Research on this process among parents of autistic children to date has been useful, but has been limited to families in Western countries, whereas autism occurs all over the world. The current study provides data on the process of initial symptom recognition, help-seeking, and initial diagnosis of a pervasive developmental disorder among 95 families of autistic children in India. The findings suggest that the specific symptoms that parents initially recognize may be associated with the speed with which they receive a diagnosis, and that the saliency of symptoms may be culturally shaped. Environmental, cultural, and socioeconomic factors may also have an impact on whether a parent receives a diagnosis. Implications for professional awareness and increased accuracy of diagnosis are also suggested.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Autistic Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Autistic Disorder / physiopathology
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Health Services Research
  • Humans
  • India
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Urban Population*