Autism in non-English-speaking countries

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NibiruMul
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12 Jan 2024, 6:02 pm

Most of the time I hear about autism, it's in either the US, UK, Canada (specifically English-speaking Canada), or another English-speaking country. Almost all autistic people I've met online and IRL were from English-speaking countries. But I've always wondered what it's like to be autistic in a non-English-speaking country (like Germany, Italy, Spain, etc.)

Do you think language barriers prevent English-speaking autistics from getting more exposure to non-English-speaking autistics? Do you think English-speaking countries treat autistic people better than non-English-speaking countries?



BillyTree
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13 Jan 2024, 10:35 am

I don't think the way Autistic people are treated has any connection with if they live in a English speaking country or not. In my opnion the national language has nothing to do with it. I rather think the important factors are how rich is the country, the general level of eduction and general standard of living. In a more advanced society you are better treated as an Autistic. I live in a non-english speaking western European country with universal healthcare. A lot of things are easier here than in the US if you are Autistic. I paid what would amount to 30 US dollars for my assement. If I get sick I will never be left without healthcare because I lack money. There is a social safety-net that prevents un-employed, sick or Autistic people to get homeless for that reason.


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SharonB
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13 Jan 2024, 11:44 am

I have a Tibetan neighbor. In her community in Tibet, Autism was more socially accepted than here in the U.S., however other ways of being were more stigmatized. I have a friend from another Asian country and it just seemed bad all around. I find studies about cultural differences this includes subcultures. Even within the U.S. or Tibet, there would be pockets of more or less stigma.

One 2021 study reads: "In the case of autism, we see cross-cultural variation in attitudes towards autistic people: previous research has found that non-autistic college students in the US reported lower levels of autism-related stigma than their Lebanese [67, 68] and Japanese [69] counterparts. Whilst these studies demonstrate that there may be variation in levels of autism stigmatisation among non-autistic individuals across cultures, studies have not yet compared autistic individuals’ experiences of autism acceptance across different cultures. Given that levels of stigma reported by non-autistic individuals vary cross-culturally, it is plausible that experience of acceptance from the perspective of autistic individuals themselves also vary across cultures. Such cross-cultural differences may exist in both external acceptance (as experiencing stigma may result in autistic individuals feeling less accepted by others) and personal acceptance (as stigma can become internalised resulting in decreased personal acceptance or ‘self-stigma’

Even a generational "subculture" exists: I have friends who are open about their Autism (younger, or male, or self-employed), while I am only open about my Neurodiversity, not Autism (older, female, Corporate America). One can consider the various factors...



Niktereuto
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13 Jan 2024, 11:10 pm

Non-native English speaker here (I live in Mexico and I'm trilingual, btw).

As BillyTree said, I think it's more related to the (social and) economic development of a country than the language.

I didn't find much information about autism in Spanish than in English when I was assessed. I think the reason is that most research about autism is led by English-speaking countries. Therefore, I could be biased because of this lack of information in Spanish, so what I would say about autism in Mexico has to be considered as my point of view.

In Mexico, I haven't found autistic communities as I have found online in English-speaking countries. A reason I think is that autism is sub-assessed.
In Mexico, 50% of the population lives in poverty. Getting an assessment in the national health system (for free) can take up to 2 years and it's limited to the capital city of a state, where there are specialists in neurology. People living in rural areas or less populated cities could prefer not to spend on travel to a major city.
Even though an assessment isn't as expensive as in the US (the cost of mine was about 15,000 MXN or 900 USD), the medium class (40% of the population) would prefer to spend on an assessment (out of the national health system) only if there's a significant and evident level of impairment.
Also, the awareness about autism is an important factor. Just by reading the news of four countries (the US, Canada, Mexico, and France), I can conclude that autism awareness in Mexico isn't as developed as in the other three countries. "Autism" is a serious word in Mexico; and "Asperger", well when I talk about me having Asperger —I don't use "autism" because of the bad stigma in Mexico— most people don't know what Asperger is.
People only identify evident cases of autism, but mild cases are undetected —and that's why I was diagnosed until 21.

The bad stigma of autism can lead to misdiagnosis or not getting assessed. And the people getting diagnosed can be bullied if they are open about their diagnosis. This is the case of a girl in my city (information in Spanish) who was studying medicine at the most prestigious private university in my country. She had a good academic background and even she was a researcher. She disclosed this to her teachers and classmates after being diagnosed, and they bullied and discredited her until she decided to leave her studies.

I'm not French, but as a non-native French speaker, I'm used to reading France news just to practice my French. Like the English-speaking countries, France is a developed country too.
I have found more information about autism in French than in Spanish, and what I can conclude about autism in France by reading the news is that autism awareness in France is more developed than in Spanish-speaking countries, but is not as accepted as it is in the US or Canada. I think this is because of the conservative society of France that restricts participation in the society of people on the spectrum because of the stigma.
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Update summary: Just minor grammar and lexical changes.


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AnnaTheSquirrel
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10 Feb 2024, 1:20 pm

NibiruMul wrote:
Do you think language barriers prevent English-speaking autistics from getting more exposure to non-English-speaking autistics?

The countries around the North Sea are fluent in English. Germany, Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands. We expose ourselves to you! (=pun)

But your exposure to our experience is limited because we also have a whole (autistic) life which is in our respective languages. There are many groups here, both IRL and online.

You probably also have no notion of how townships and towns are very active to mend the mental health of their citizens. They actively knit and support the social fabric of their community. In my country every town has a whole department for getting the local autistics save living and/or have them participate in society. Lots of professionals, life long guidance, all free thanks to our global health care.



Iris.Ell
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10 Feb 2024, 1:46 pm

Netherlands, is a very civilized and socially supportive country indeed. Coming from Greece, I dare to disagree..

I have noted by the way, how much less different I feel in the UK, the society is much more accepting and feel better accepted. I also feel that english culture is much more autistic compared to Greek culture, so I do not feel as much as an alien. Similarly in the Netherlands. In Greece I am told that I look, behave and talk like a foreigner with a greek accent, many people do not believe that I am greek, I look very atypically greek. I know think it has got to do something with autism. Greek culture is a very ~socially engaging culture and the greek language has a lot of nuances, it is virtually a more complicated language, spoken and unspoken.... While, english is much more straightforward...at least thats how I feel it.. What do you think about it?

People live in darkness when it comes to autism and still think it is a disability ..if you ever expose yourself, in the best of the cases. Autism= alien here. Diagnosis comes only from a very very experienced psychiatrist, and those are scarce.

Also, teachers have absolutely no knowledge at all about neurodiverse students and how they can be supported, unless they are quite visibly disabled. Gifted students, like I was, are flashed down the drain and are usually bullied.


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AnnaTheSquirrel
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10 Feb 2024, 2:01 pm

Iris.Ell wrote:
Greek culture is a very ~socially engaging culture and the greek language has a lot of nuances, it is virtually a more complicated language, spoken and unspoken.... While, english is much more straightforward...at least thats how I feel it.. What do you think about it?

I agree 100% with you.

From history we have the 'Roman/Nordic' border running across the country. In the Southern half we have more of a Catholic culture. It centers around social relations. Here it is more important to keep a good atmosphere than to say what you mean or to have a constructive conversation.

In the Northern half it's mainly Protestant and they will tell you straight how it is. Goal oriented and conversing to get to success. I mean what I say and I say all that I mean.

As an autist I have trouble reading the people in the South. But! It was nice to live there and people are friendly in the street and strangers are quickly engaged.
But I prefer the North where contact is more straight forward and all my friends too. I'm less alone here.

I imagine you have some similar feelings about Greece and the UK.



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10 Feb 2024, 5:42 pm

The English language barrier here is low.
Internet penetration here is almost just as high.

But the academic language is intimidating, the activism related stuff isn't in the picture.
Save for more modernized areas where they're in-tuned in the US related activism; this isn't the country's norm.

Many are underdiagnosed/undiagnosed due to socioeconomic reasons.
Not just the type that goes undiagnosed in adulthood masker passers -- even the so called level 2/3 types.

On top of that; the availability. Many would have to travel to the capital region or major cities.

Heck, my assessment is still probably the most expensive thing I ever owned to this day.
Same reasons above why I was diagnosed in teenage years instead of early childhood.
Same reasons why I cannot afford to have any regular therapy sessions. Or have a therapist at all.

Let alone indigent households.
Unless they're lucky enough to qualify for government aides; and if such city/region wide practices exists at all, and if the relevant services is also nearby the locale.


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