Underlying Factors Behind the Low Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorders in Oman : Sociocultural perspective

Allal Ouhtit, Yahya Al-Farsi, Marwan Al-Sharbati, Mostafa Waly, Ishita Gupta, Omar Al-Farsi, Maha Al-Khaduri, Mohammed Al-Shafaee, Samir Al-Adawi

Abstract


Epidemiological surveys from various countries indicate an increased prevalence of autism spectrum disorders (ASD), leading researchers to debate whether there are now ‘more affected’ or ‘more detected’. The epidemiology of ASD in developing countries, such as Oman, has generally indicated a lower prevalence compared to developed countries in the West. In Oman, the prevalence is low; however, this article highlights some of the factors that could contribute to the appearance of a low ASD rate: cross-cultural variations in the presentation of distress; a lack of reliable biological markers for diagnosing ASD, and a lack of health services for children with ASD, thus limiting the number of participants in epidemiological surveys. While the defining features of ASD have yet to be established, pilot studies in Oman indicate a substantial number of children with these disorders. Therefore, it is important that these discrepancies be addressed and the need for appropriate services for this patient population in Oman be highlighted.



Keywords


Autism; Prevalence; Culture; Oman.

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Sultan Qaboos University Medical Journal, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, Sultan Qaboos University, PO Box 35, Postal Code 123, Al-Khod, Muscat, Oman

ISSN (Print edition): 2075-051X ISSN (Internet edition): 2075-0528

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