Service provision for autism in mainland China: preliminary mapping of service pathways.


Few data on healthcare services for individuals with Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASC) are available from mainland China. This article is based on findings from 69 semi-structured interviews with parents of children with ASC in three intervention centres. The respondents are from 19 regions in mainland China. A service-mapping questionnaire containing 50 questions is developed and used as an interview schedule for service mapping. The pathway to diagnosis and intervention for children with ASC is presented according to parents' experience. The findings report considerable delay along the pathway which may be partly due to the under-developed service system. Several cultural issues are identified which may also contribute to the delay, such as the perception of mental illness, folk beliefs equating delayed development of language skills in early childhood with future high intelligence, and the state-imposed one-child policy. Delays in recognising ASC and a lack of support are also considered to be associated with the considerable financial burden placed on parents of children with ASC in mainland China.