An investigative study into the current understanding of autism and provision for autistic children in Kuwait
Autism is a severe form of childhood psychopathology which has enormous impact on the child, his/her family, and the wider community. It challenges the expertise of doctors, teachers and therapists. In Kuwait, recognition of the disorder is still in its infancy. However, the government has established a new Centre for Autism, the first of its kind in the country, to provide up-to-date medical care and education for autistic children. This investigative study attempts to assess the impact autistic children's behaviours have on their families within the context of Kuwait. This will be related to Kuwait's progress in catering for autism, in the light of current thinking world-wide. Autism is defined, early descriptions and theories as to aetiology are outlined, and the main trends of modern research are indicated. Within the context of the Review of Literature, distinguishing characteristics of autistic behaviour and the general impact upon families are identified and discussed, after which specific stresses and related problems are reviewed. Diagnosis and treatment are also considered. Discussion then turns to the roles of the main governmental and other bodies concerned with provision for autistic children in Kuwait, and an account is given of the special schools which are currently known to cater specifically for this disorder. Because any medical condition, but particularly autism has an impact upon the immediate and extended family, information is also presented regarding coping strategies by Kuwaiti parents, as well as various therapies and training programmes and their claimed effects. Other factors influencing the family and which can cause further stress, such as financial or health matters are similarly considered. All these elements are viewed in the light of the situation in Kuwait at the present time. The evaluation of the impact on parents of the behaviour of autistic family members, was achieved by means of a questionnaire, Survey Questionnaire of Families and their Responses to Behaviour Problems Related to Autism, described in Chapter Six. It is found that, in Kuwait, provision is limited and fragmented compared with the UK and the USA. This has resulted in families having to cope as best they can with the behaviours of their autistic children, which in many cases has caused stress and related problems. Moreover, there is, as yet, relatively little information available to researchers, parents, or the general public in this regard. Accordingly, recommendations are made for both action and research, in order to raise the issues of stress and the family, as well as raise the profile of this disorder in Kuwait and extend provision.