Utahns' understanding of autism spectrum disorder

  • Holt J
  • Christensen K
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Abstract

Background: The general public has numerous misconceptions and a lack of awareness and understanding regarding some of the prevalence, characteristics, and treatments of autism. As a result, education and awareness activities to increase the general public's understanding and awareness of autism are important. This study was conducted throughout Utah to inform public education and awareness efforts being planned as part of Utah's State Plan for Improving Outcomes for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Development Disorders. Objective: The purpose of this study was to identify public awareness and knowledge of ASD in Utah, such as the public's understanding of the prevalence, characteristics, and treatments of autism, as well as the sources of this information. Methods: To identify public perceptions and attitudes of autism spectrum disorder, 1001 Utah residents 18 years of age or older were surveyed using a 32-question statewide random-digit dialed telephone survey. Results: The percentages of responses for 15 of the 20 autism-related questions are presented by ethnicity (Hispanic or Latino), education level, and income level. Conclusions: The study indicates that autism education efforts need to address the least understood aspects of autism; the causes of autism, how autism is diagnosed, and how autism is treated. Radio or TVoutlets are more effective, particularly so with Hispanic or Latinos and populations with less education. Medical professionals are also an important resource for families with direct autism-related needs. © 2013 Elsevier Inc.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Autism
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Education
  • Outreach
  • Public perception

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Authors

  • Judith Markham Holt

  • Keith M. Christensen

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