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Relate to Autism's World Autism Views Project Tackles Global Misperceptions

An online survey in 32 languages captures cultural differences in views on autism to inform organizations working for greater autism awareness.
    CAMBRIDGE, MA, April 01, 2011 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Different cultures hold different views about the world. But how do different cultures see autism? The World Autism Views Project aims to discover how our worldviews influence perceptions of autism.

Very little autism research has included families from outside the Western world yet it is here that the need is greatest. There are parts of the world where children with autism (and other disabilities) are very often hidden away so as not to bring shame on the family, neglected and abused because of how people view autism.

What do people around the world believe causes autism? With no current scientific consensus parents are left to draw their own conclusions. How far around the world has the idea that vaccines cause autism spread? Where on the planet do people believe that with appropriate treatment, children with autism can loose the diagnosis? Does cultural background affect whether people see a role in the community for those with autism? Who believes that autism is a gift to humanity? We don't yet know the answers to these questions.

What we do know is that people's beliefs about autism impact how individuals with autism are integrated into the community (if at all), what services are available for families and whether or not families use those services. There is no point building a cutting-edge autism facility if people in the town are too afraid to even admit their child has special needs - no one will come even though parents are desperately aware of needing help. This is the case in many countries; the initial barrier to families getting support is the prevailing cultural attitude to autism.

In partnership with over 30 autism organizations worldwide the World Autism Views Project aims to give a voice to people everywhere so researchers can design culturally appropriate programs for children with autism. Creating awareness is not a one-way process, it has to involve listening, hearing the perspectives of others to find a starting point for the conversation.

The anonymous survey is now available in over 31 languages: English, Polish, Hungarian, Dutch, German, Japanese, Italian, Thai, Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian, Swahili, Indonesian, Norwegian, Farsi, Finnish, Turkish, Chinese (Traditional and Simplified), Russian, Spanish, Hindi, Amharic, Lithuanian, Arabic, French, Hebrew, Malayalam, Welsh, Portuguese, Estonian, Slovene, Nepali and Vietnamese.

The results, once processed, will be made publicly available on an interactive map and used by researchers designing culturally-appropriate autism programs.

The survey is open until April 16th at http://www.relatetoautism.com/world_autism_views.

Relate to Autism helps parents to provide immediate and meaningful support to children with autism with free online tools, information and a rich resource center. Relate to Autism facilitates collaboration and partnership among parents, family members and practitioners complementing existing therapies or designing custom treatment plans tuned to the individual needs of each child.


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Kat Houghton
Relate to Autism

Cambridge, Massachusetts
USA
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