Parents' experiences of their child being diagnosed with an autistic spectrum disorder.
Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD's) represent some of the most common developmental disorders amongst children today (Rapin, 1994), yet knowledge and interventions for these disorders remain minimal. Access to resources for diagnosis and intervention for children with ASD's in South Africa appears to be limited to a few families. For this select population, many difficulties and much dissatisfaction with diagnostic processes remain. This study aimed to capture the experiences of parents whose children had received ASD diagnoses. This study was qualitative in nature and took the form of semi structured interviews with a total of eight parents of ASD children (7 mothers and 1 father). These interviews highlighted key issues in the area of ASD's in South Africa, including: a lack of knowledge amongst professionals, an unwillingness to diagnose, and lack of available support and facilities. Data collected from this sample revealed that the average age of diagnosis of children was 6 years old, and the average number of years taken to reach diagnosis was 3 years 3 months. Although these figures correlate with international research, participants of this study revealed that it had taken on average 7.2 medical practitioners to diagnose their children with ASD's. This number is significantly higher in South Africa than research from other countries indicates. These findings are discussed in this research study, with emphasis being placed on implications for early intervention in South Africa.