Autism in East Malaysia: A Survey Among Parents of Children with ASD in Kota Kinabalu Sabah


The aim of this study is to understand the characteristics ASD children, past and present service utilization, parental stigma, and support networks received by families raising ASD children in Kota Kinabalu Sabah. A quantitative study was conducted on 44 parents of children with ASD using the Affiliate Stigma Scale and the Family Support Scale (FSS). In general, the children first show ASD symptoms at the average age of 28.1 months (SD 17.3) and the average age of diagnosis is 46 months (SD 23.4). The validity of the instruments in this study is high with the Cronbach's alpha value of 0.93 for stigma and 0.81 for family support. 56.8% children with ASD in this study have no-verbal ability or able to use single words. The findings show that the average age of children with ASD in this study is 7.7 years. The most common characteristic of ASD children is showing no response when their name is called, no eye contact, lack of speech ability compared other children of the same age, delayed speech, difficulty in interacting with others, and behavioral problems. Most diagnoses were done by psychiatrists and pediatricians. Occupational therapy is the most widely used therapy, followed by speech and language therapy, sensory integration therapy, and behavior al therapy. Behaviorists and psychiatrists are the commonly used specialists. Half of parents say they sometimes experience frustration when it comes to providing services for their children. Overall, the levels of stigma and family support network are low.


Autism (ASD); child characteristics perceive stigma; family support network


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