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Views of Zimbabwean Parents of Children with Autism apropos of the Process of Diagnosis and Access to Services
The number of children diagnosed with autism around the world is increasing. Unlike a few years ago, more about the disorder is known today, which facilitates the improvement of outcomes of the many children diagnosed with the disorder. However, most of what is documented about autism today is based on research from the Western world. Limited research has been conducted about children with autism and their families in other parts of the world, particularly Africa. This current study was an attempt to address that concern. A purposive sample of five parents of children with autism in Zimbabwe were interviewed to explore their experiences in terms of getting their children diagnosed and access appropriate services. The results indicated that the parents viewed the process of diagnosis as difficult and at times inaccurate. The parents also identified several challenges including social stigma, strained family relationships, and lack of access to appropriate services. Based on results of this study it is recommended that parents and service providers of children with autism should be educated about child development and autism to promote efficient diagnoses. It is also recommended that service providers working with children with autism should collaborate with the parents in order to improve the treatment outcomes for the children.