From symptom recognition to services: How south asian muslim immigrant families navigate autism

Brinda Jegatheesan, Susan Fowler, Peggy J. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study examined the experiences of three South Asian Muslim immigrant families who have a young child with autism. It describes the early period of their child's disability as the families encountered four critical issues in their lives: a complex disability, the culturally diverse conceptualizations of the disability, family-professional dynamics in cross-cultural encounters and the search for appropriate services. Analyses were based on interviews with parents, supplemented by 17 months of participant-observation in homes and community. Parents narrated their experiences beginning with symptom recognition through help seeking, diagnosis and subsequent service provision. Results suggest that for these families the challenging process of diagnosing and ameliorating autism is complicated by their unique positioning within and between diverse meaning systems. Challenges include American health and education professionals' misunderstandings of their family organization and linguistic practices, and difficulties in cross-cultural communication with professionals. Implications for professionals are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)797-811
Number of pages15
JournalDisability and Society
Issue number7
StatePublished - Dec 2010


  • Autism
  • Culture and family-professional dynamics
  • Muslim immigrant families

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • General Health Professions
  • General Social Sciences


Dive into the research topics of 'From symptom recognition to services: How south asian muslim immigrant families navigate autism'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this