Assessing an IsiZulu questionnaire with educators in primary schools in Pietermaritzburg to establish a baseline of knowledge of Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a significant childhood disorder and has a growing prevalence rate across the world. It has been identified in children from a wide range of racial groups, ethnicities and socio-economic groups, making it a globally relevant disorder. However, poorly developed research on ASD in Africa makes it difficult to determine the prevalence rate, presentation and level of knowledge regarding the disorder locally. Therefore, assessing knowledge of ASD amongst professionals is a useful starting point for research in countries where research on ASD is limited. Educators in particular are a vital resource due to the likelihood of their early identification of developmental delays in children of school going age. Awareness studies reveal that professionals have poor awareness of ASD and therefore what educators in South Africa know about ASD needs to be established. In order to do so, a culturally relevant measure is required. This study aimed to translate an established measure into isiZulu and then assessed its reliability as a measure of knowledge in the local context. This was done in a pilot study with postgraduate students at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, and then again in a larger sample of students and educators. The study then investigated the level of knowledge of ASD amongst educators in Edendale, Pietermaritzburg by using the isiZulu measure. The results suggested that the questionnaire was a reliable measure of knowledge amongst educators in Pietermaritzburg. Educators were found to have a good baseline knowledge of ASD but their knowledge was found to be lacking in specific detail. This indicated that there is an opportunity for further research and interventions to develop knowledge of ASD within the local context.