Posted: March 24th, 2023
The treatment of autism is one of the most controversial topics in society today. The debate centers on whether to accept the affected children as completely impaired or to implement interventions that can considerably increase their quality of life. The treatment versus acceptance debate affects the success of interventions towards individuals with autism. Important questions arise relating to the ethical aspects of autism treatment and the cultural aspects of the challenge and how it is understood in different cultures. The level I question in the research pertains to the ethics inherent in the early intensive behavioral intervention (EIBI) as used to intervene in children with autism. The level II question relates to the cultural differences in understanding and treatment of autism in children since different societies view and comprehend the condition differently.
Ethical Perspective of Inquiry
Research on the treatment of autism reveals considerable ethical debate relating to whether treatment is warranted for the behavioral disorder. Many experts recommend the use of interventions, such as the early intensive behavioral intervention (EIBI), which have sparked controversy relating to the viability of the treatment procedure in the condition. The ethical debate relates to whether the intervention can work in the treatment of the disorder, which people consider irreversible. While some people believe that it is ethical and moral to relive the negative symptoms of the condition, others argue that the disorder is incurable and the healthcare system should not spend resources towards its treatment (Brodhead, Cox, & Quigley, 2018). Major disagreements have been featured relating to whether EIBI is a suitable strategy for the treatment of autistic children. The debate continues to affect the treatment and the outcome in dealing with this prevalent condition.
In various workshops and other avenues where the implications of autism are discussed, major disagreements and apparent power imbalances between autistics and other stakeholders are evident, such as parents, on the appropriate way of understanding the problem and implementing effective procedures to help the affected to overcome the problem and live a productive life. While many medical experts believe in the possibility of intervening and helping children with autism to overcome the negative effect of the condition, some parents do not consider the condition as treatable and might hinder the potential of interventions such as EIBI. Some of the interventions are usually costly because they occur over a long-time period and might use many resources (Graf, Miller, Epstein, & Rapin, 2017). Therefore, the procedures might be countered by virtual of being cost-intensive and without the possibility of a complete treatment for the condition.
Public and social policies and programs strive to provide the necessary resources for intervention and education of autistic children, but they are never adequate to provide comprehensive help. Therefore, money, power, and control play an important role in the treatment outcome of autism. Scarce public resources are used in the implementation of many interventions, some of which are considered more effective than the treatment of autism. For example, since the allocation of the scarce resources is problematic, policymakers and care providers might focus on disorders that are treatable and ignore those which are not such as autism (Gruson-Wood, 2016). As a result, the interventions of autism remain inadequate to help the affected children to have a productive life.
Cultural Perspective of Inquiry
Autism is a universal condition with major biological implications that emerge with the same fundamental elements, signs and symptoms, but it is vulnerable to cultural interpretations. Some different cultural values and norms affect the understanding of the disorder and the approaches taken in helping individuals with autism to overcome the condition and manage symptoms. Cultures are sets of behavioral values, norms, and meanings that members of a specific society have and use to understand different aspects of life. Cultural views determine what behaviors are considered appropriate and others that are viewed as inappropriate for individuals of particular ages (Laurelut et al., 2016). They also determine normal development for a particular cultural group. The cultural values and norms connect to both diagnosis and treatment of autism in children. As a result, the problem is addressed differently in diverse cultures.
Researchers and psychologists have explored the impact of culture in the assessment and treatment of autism. Rogler is one of the experts who have developed the model to explain the role of culture in understanding psychological conditions. He proposed a hierarchical, three-level framework to understand the effect of culture in diagnosing psychiatric disorders that might be useful in explaining the role of culture in autism diagnosis. Culture is an important factor in mental disorders. Level I shows the way culture affects the assessment of symptoms of the disorder and their severity. Level II is the configuration of signs of the disorder into conditions that are specifically relevant to the application of culturally sensitive screening and diagnostic measures. Level III includes the cultural aspects of the diagnostic situation and the influence of cultural diversity between the care provider and the patient (Matson et al., 2017). The differences determine the way autism is diagnosed and treated.
Cultural norms and values are critical and mediate the understanding of autism, its symptoms, especially the behavioral aspects of the condition, and the forms of treatment for the condition. Cultures determine the way parents and other caregivers report the symptoms of the condition to health care providers. In turn, their reports play an important role in the diagnosis of the condition (Matson et al., 2017). For instance, the findings of a study carried out in the United States revealed that the main concern of American parents is a delay in language development. On the contrary, parents in India are concerned about social difficulties when their children have autism. Latina parents are most likely to focus on temperament (Ratto, Reznick, & Turner-Brown, 2016). Culture further determines the willingness of the patient to report some symptoms. For example, a parent might be willing to express the signs that appear to be socially desirable and withhold those which appear socially undesirable and could cause stigma in society. The symptoms that are disclosed by parents influence the extent of the diagnosis and could also affect treatment.
Autism is one of the most common psychological and behavioral disorders that affect children. The developmental disorder is usually diagnosed during the stage when children are expected to develop social and communication skills. The diagnosis and treatment of autism is marred with ethical issues relating to the potential for effectiveness of the current interventions. While experts might consider treatment effective and necessary, other stakeholders, including parents, consider them a waste of resources because they do not achieve complete healing from the condition. Besides, the diagnosis and treatment of autism are affected by cultural differences because people from diverse societies view and interpret the condition differently.
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