Date of Award

6-2016

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Rudolph Bailey

Second Advisor

Luana Greulich

Third Advisor

Jimmy Kijai

Abstract

In Brazil, in spite of over half a million students with special needs in primary education, little research has been conducted about ASD diagnostic practices. This involves learning about the training that professionals are receiving, what diagnostic practices are being implemented on the field, and whether those are being contextualized according to the Brazilian culture. Students with special needs are directly affected by the results of diagnostic practices, since identifying the individuals is one of the first steps. Lack of understanding about that stage may lead to the problematic realities of underidentification or overidentification, exclusion of children who should receive that special intervention and inclusion of some who do not need them. Precision in diagnosis, that considers cultural factors, is a highly desired and continuous goal for special educators. Therefore, students with ASD are directly affected by the results of this research.

The purpose of this study is 1) to determine the knowledge and training of professionals that diagnose Autism Spectrum Disorder in Brazil (Audiologists, Neurologists, Pediatricians, Psychologists, Psychiatrists, and others), 2) to determine if those professionals are using diagnostic practices similar to the US, 3) to investigate which procedures and instruments are used in the diagnosis of a child suspected of having an Autism Spectrum Disorder in Brazil; and 4) to determine what happens after diagnosis.

This research can be placed within the context of studies focused on three complementary areas: conceptual, historical, and cross-cultural. The first area is related to the overall conceptual understanding of cultural factors in the diagnosis of ASD. The second one considers the historical influences in the diagnostic practices of children with ASD in Brazil, including government policies. The last one adopts a cross-cultural approach to the study of autism with emphasis on comparative studies. The survey instrument specifically designed for this study is The Autism Spectrum Disorders Assessment Survey comprised of thirteen questions (single and multiple choice items, and Likert-type items) designed to collect information in regards to demographic characteristics of the participant, description of the diagnostic team, procedures, instruments used for diagnosis, and knowledge about characteristics necessary to identify a child as having an ASD. The survey received 236 responses from professionals that diagnose Autism Spectrum Disorders from every state and the Federal District in Brazil.

The results of this research suggest the need to invest in the training of professionals. Another related suggestion is to develop specific criteria and common diagnostic protocol for professionals in Brazil. Finally, providing access to inclusive education to people with autism would also provide them a more adequate opportunity for development.

Share

COinS