Autism in Tanzania

August 22, 2016

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a critical neuro-developmental disorder beginning in childhood and is increasingly recognized worldwide. Recent statistics mention an increase from 1 out of every 100 children to almost one out of every 60 children in USA. It has also been increasingly recognized in many African countries.

In Tanzania, we are observing a large gap in information on the knowledge, prevalence and care of children with ASD.
A systemic search and a full treatise of the existing information about ASD in Tanzania was done using different devices, including interviewing key persons, visiting facilities and identifying potential resources available for improved care of children with ASD.

The clinical presentation of ASD in Tanzania is still devious. The only published study available from Tanzania is a case series of 15 children with ASD. This study used the ADI-R translated into Kiswahili to examine 20 children previously diagnosed with

autism in a school in Dar Essalam, Tanzania. This tool helps to identify the verbal versus non-verbal cases of ASD and has been in place since the early 90s.

The proportion of non-verbal cases was found to be higher than in developed countries. Seven of the cases had suffered from malaria and three out of the 15 cases had entirely normal development through the first two years of life acquired and autism immediately after having severe malaria. Thus, considering a possible contagious etiology, the numbers of patients studied are too small to give a meaningful indication on etiology.

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