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Project investigates autism in British Indian families

Published: 15 March 2021 at 15:43

Lord Ashcroft Building in Cambridge

Researchers appeal for participants to help build a clearer picture of issues being faced

Researchers are appealing to British Indian parents to help them build a clearer picture of some of the unique issues faced by these families when raising a child with autism.

The study, which is being carried out by researchers from Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), hopes to better inform health professionals of the specific cultural challenges encountered by British Indian parents.

British Asians as a whole make up roughly 4% of the UK population, but in 2018 only 2% of referrals to the NHS for autism assessments were from this community. Data shows that while 0.2% of Caucasian children receive statements for autism in UK schools, this figure is 0.07% for British Asian children.

Dr Steven Stagg, a Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) who specialises in autism, said:

“The British Asian community is hugely underrepresented in autism research. Using the most commonly accessed psychology database, inputting British Asian and autism as search terms returns just two papers.

“Without targeted research like this, which is specifically looking at British Indian families, we cannot develop strategies to help parents deal with their unique concerns. Instead, we risk imposing models that may not suit the specific cultural requirements and understandings of these communities.”


Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) PhD student Fathima Kodakkadan, who is leading the research, said:

“This study is specifically looking at the pressures British Indian parents face when bringing up a child with autism. The project aims to develop a better picture of some of the strategies used by British Indian parents, which in turn can better inform those health professionals they encounter. We will also compare this data with results we have already collected from parents in India.”

The survey is entirely online, takes approximately 40 minutes to complete, and no identifying information is required. Participants will be asked to complete a series of questionnaires that will assess stress and resilience.

Participants can provide an email address if they would like to receive an Amazon voucher to thank them for their time. Alternatively, they can take part anonymously and their voucher will be donated to the National Autistic Society.

For further information about the research project, please visit https://aruspsych.eu.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_cAtDOE1LbXH099A.

The Centre for Mind and Behaviour at ARU

Steven Stagg is a member of our Development and Lifespan Group, which focuses on childhood development of memory, language and social cognition, visual attention, emotion processing and well-being. The group is part of the ARU Centre for Mind and Behaviour.