Challenges to Autism Diagnosis and Service Delivery in the Gaza Strip

Saturday, May 14, 2016: 11:30 AM-1:30 PM
Hall A (Baltimore Convention Center)
M. Habash1 and I. Habash2, (1)A Global Voice for Autism, Ottawa, ON, Canada, (2)O.B.C, Ottawa, ON, Canada
Background: The majority of the population in the Gaza Strip still live in refugee camps. The region has suffered major political and economic challenges for many year. Those facts have made the efforts to conduct autism prevalence studies in the Gaza Strip very challenging. Furthermore, organizations and institutions working in the autism domain have not been able to improve the diagnosis or the delivery of services to those who need such services. In particular, cultural and economic barriers have impacted the population of the refugee camps more that those who live in the cities, leading to less chances of children with autism being diagnosed or receiving any form of services.

Objectives: The purpose of this paper is to investigate the challenges facing families of children with autism dwelling the refugee camps in the Gaza Strip and to determine opportunities to provide better access to services for those families.

Methods: Quantitative and qualitative data is collected for this study through volunteer participants and institutions working in the region. A survey has been developed to be using during interviews with families of children suspected to have autism spectrum disorders as identified by public health workers or a professional. The study also utilizes autism prevalence data that was recently published.

Results: This is an ongoing study expected to complete in February 2016. Results will be available upon completion of the study.

Conclusions: The results from this study are expected to highlight the challenges and barriers to accessing services for diagnosis and interventions for families living in the refugee camps in the Gaza Strip, and compare those results to services received by people living outside the refugee camps.