Studies highlight need to adapt autism tests for African cultures

Some of the items on a common diagnostic test for autism may not translate well to African cultures, according to preliminary results from multiple teams. Two teams presented their unpublished results Friday at the 2017 Africa Regional International Meeting for Autism Research in Stellenbosch, South Africa.

The teams are trying to adapt the autism test for use in South Africa and Tanzania and evaluate its cultural appropriateness. A third project reveals unique aspects of autism in Ethiopian children that traditional tests may miss. And a fourth effort aims to develop an open-source tool for autism screening and another for diagnosis that could be used in various low-income countries.

“Africa is so broad, there are so many different cultural contexts, and yet we are finding so many similarities,” says Amina Abubakar, research psychologist at the Wellcome Trust’s Kenya Medical Research Institute in Kilifi and lead researcher on the open-source project. “There is an opportunity for collaborative work for looking for common ground for how things can be moved forward.”

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11th September 2017