Influence of cultural and religious aspects on the perception of autism in children by parents in Africa and the Middle East



The article includes a literary review of scientific works devoted to the study of specific features of the motivational and personal sphere of mothers with children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), published in a number of countries in Africa and the Middle East. The author describes the difficulties faced by mothers in the process of education and treatment of their autistic children in these regions of the world; provides statistics on the extension of autism among the child population in South Africa, Saudi Arabia and Iran. The article presents studies assessing the degree of influence of religious and cultural aspects on the parents’ perception of their "special" children in Israel and Somalia.

General Information

Keywords: autism, family, mothers, cultural characteristics, religious aspects, Africa, Middle East, Israel, Somalia

Journal rubric: Medical Psychology

Article type: review article


For citation: Kukanov A.A. Influence of cultural and religious aspects on the perception of autism in children by parents in Africa and the Middle East [Elektronnyi resurs]. Sovremennaia zarubezhnaia psikhologiia = Journal of Modern Foreign Psychology, 2021. Vol. 10, no. 2, pp. 20–26. DOI: 10.17759/jmfp.2021100202. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


  1. Kukanov A.A. Osobennosti tsennostno-motivatsionnoi sfery roditelei detei s razlichnymi otkloneniyami v razvitii [Features of the value-motivational sphere of parents of children with various developmental disabilities]: Dis. kand. psikhol. nauk. Sankt-Peterburg, 2019. 392 p. (In Russ.).
  2. Kukanov A.A., Fantalova E.B. Motivatsionno-lichnostnaya sfera materei, imeyushchikh detei s autizmom: Severnaya Amerika i Zapadnaya Evropa [Elektronnyi resurs] [Motivational and Personality Sphere in Mothers of Autist Children: North America and Western Europe]. Psikhologicheskaya nauka i obrazovanie = Psychological  Science  and  Education, 2016. Vol. 8, no. 1, pp. 128–136. DOI:10.17759/psyedu.2016080112 (In Russ.).
  3. Shiri E. et al. A pilot study of family-based management of behavioral excesses in young Iranian children with autism spectrum disorder. Asian Journal of Psychiatry, 2020. Vol. 47, article ID 101845, 7 p. DOI:10.1016/j.ajp.2019.101845
  4. Alon R. Social support and post-crisis growth among mothers of children with autism spectrum disorder and mothers of children with down syndrome. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 2019. Vol. 90, pp. 22–30. DOI:10.1016/j.ridd.2019.04.010
  5. Bozkurt G., Uysal G., Düzkaya D.S. Examination of Care Burden and Stress Coping Styles of Parents of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Journal of Pediatric Nursing, 2019. Vol. 47, pp. 142–147. DOI:10.1016/j.pedn.2019.05.005
  6. Dardas L.A., Ahmad M.M. Quality of life among parents of children with autistic disorder: A sample from the Arab world. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 2014. Vol. 35, no. 2, pp. 278–287. DOI:10.1016/j.ridd.2013.10.029
  7. Decoteau C.L. The “Western disease”: Autism and Somali parents' embodied health movements. Social Science & Medicine, 2017. Vol. 177. P. 169–176. DOI:10.1016/j.socscimed.2017.01.064
  8. Mohammadi F. et al. Development of Parental Competence Scale in Parents of Children with Autism. Journal of Pediatric Nursing, 2020. Vol. 50, pp. 77–84. DOI:10.1016/j.pedn.2019.04.006
  9. El-Baz F., Ismael N.A., Nour El-Din S.M. Risk factors for autism: An Egyptian study. The Egyptian Journal of Medical Human Genetics, 2011. Vol. 12, no. 1, pp. 31–38. DOI:10.1016/j.ejmhg.2011.02.011
  10. Nabgha-e-Amen et al. Environmental exposure pathway analysis of trace elements and autism risk in Pakistani children population. Science of the Total Environment, 2020. Vol. 712, article ID 136471, 10 p. DOI:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.136471
  11. Erasmus S., Kritzinger A., van der Linde J. Families raising children attending autism-specific government-funded schools in South Africa. Journal of Family Studies, 2019. 17 p. DOI:10.1080/13229400.2019.1676292
  12. Eroglua M., Kilicb B.G. Peer bullying among children with autism spectrum disorder in formal education settings: Data from Turkey. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 2020. Vol. 75, article ID 101572, 7 p. DOI:10.1016/j.rasd.2020.101572
  13. Bello‑Mojeed M. et al. Feasibility of parent‑mediated behavioural intervention for behavioural problems in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder in Nigeria: a pilot study. Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health, 2016. Vol 10, no. 28, 8 p. DOI:10.1186/s13034‑016‑0117‑4
  14. Findler L., Jacobyb A.K., Gabisb L. Subjective happiness among mothers of children with disabilities: The role of stress, attachment, guilt and social support. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 2016. Vol. 55, pp. 44–54. DOI:10.1016/j.ridd.2016.03.006
  15. Ghanadzade M., Waltz M., Ragi T. The intervention priorities of parents of children with autism spectrum disorders in Iran. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 2018. Vol. 55, pp. 14–24. DOI:10.1016/j.rasd.2018.08.002
  16. Gobrial E. The Lived Experiences of Mothers of Children with the Autism Spectrum Disorders in Egypt. Social sciences, 2018. Vol. 7, no. 8, article ID 133, 11 p. DOI:10.3390/socsci7080133
  17. Kapp L., Brown O. Resilience in Families Adapting to Autism Spectrum Disorder. Journal of Psychology in Africa, 2011. Vol. 21, no. 3, pp. 459–463. DOI:10.1080/14330237.2011.10820482
  18. Mitchell C., Holdt N. The search for a timely diagnosis: Parents’ experiences of their child being diagnosed with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder. Journal of Child & Adolescent Mental Health, 2014. Vol. 26, no. 1, pp. 49–62. DOI:10.2989/17280583.2013.849606
  19. Hirschler-Guttenberg Y. et al. Mothering, fathering, and the regulation of negative and positive emotions in high-functioning preschoolers with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 2015. Vol. 56, no. 5, pp. 530–539. DOI:10.1111/jcpp.12311
  20. Masri A.T. et al. Parental use of conventional and complementary therapy for autism in Jordan. Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 2020. Vol. 48, article ID 102275, 6 p. DOI:10.1016/j.ctim.2019.102275
  21. Dolev S. et al. Resolution of the child’s ASD diagnosis among Arab–Israeli mothers: Associations with maternal sensitivity and wellbeing. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 2016. Vol. 21, pp. 73–83. DOI:10.1016/j.rasd.2015.09.004
  22. Ostfeld-Etzion S. et al. Self-regulated compliance in preschoolers with autism spectrum disorder: The role of temperament and parental disciplinary style. Autism, 2016. Vol. 20, no. 7, pp. 868–878. DOI:10.1177/1362361315615467
  23. Shaked M. The social trajectory of illness: Autism in the ultraorthodox community in Israel. Social Science & Medicine, 2005. Vol. 61, no. 10, pp. 2190–2200. DOI:10.1016/j.socscimed.2005.04.022
  24. Sharabi A., Marom-Golan D. Social support, education levels, and parents’ involvement: a comparison between mothers and fathers of young children with autism spectrum disorder. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 2018. Vol. 38, no. 1, pp. 54–64. DOI:10.1177/0271121418762511
  25. Alshaigi K. et al. Stigmatization among parents of autism spectrum disorder children in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. International Journal of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 2019. Vol. 7, no. 3, pp. 140–146. DOI:10.1016/j.ijpam.2019.06.003

Information About the Authors

Andrey A. Kukanov, PhD in Psychology, Medical psychologist, Scientific-practical Children's and Adolescents Mental Health Center n.a. G. Sukhareva, Moscow Department of Health Care, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:



Total: 764
Previous month: 31
Current month: 18


Total: 266
Previous month: 4
Current month: 4