(1) Child and Adolescent Centre, Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Lagos, Nigeria
(2) Department of Psychiatry, University College Hospital, Ibadan, Nigeria
(3) Department of Behavioural Medicine, Lagos State University College of Medicine, Lagos, Nigeria
(4) Department of Epidemiology, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria
* Corresponding author Email: email@example.com
Compared with several other chronic childhood disorders, autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a serious and disabling group of neurodevelopmental disorders. Relatively little attention has been given to its early identification and the pattern and impact of impairments’ on the primary caregiver of children with autism in sub-Saharan Africa. This study determines the relationship between the type and pattern of autistic impairments found in children with autism and the psychosocial burden on their mothers.
Children (n = 60) with ASD and their mothers (n = 60) attending a child neurodevelopmental clinic in Lagos were recruited for the study over a 6-month period. Diagnosis of autism was made using the DSM-IV criteria. A symptom checklist was used to determine the pattern of impairments found in each child with a diagnosis of autism. The 12-item General Health Questionnaire and the Zarit Burden Interview were used to assess psychological distress and social burden, respectively, in the mothers of affected children.
Children with ASD had impairments in social, communication and behavioural areas. On bivariate analysis, the presence of social type of impairments and a large number of impairments were significantly associated with psychological distress and burden in mothers. Following multiple linear regression, only a large number of impairments (β = 0.484, 95% CI = 0.090–0.877, P = 0.017) remained significantly and independently associated with psychological distress in the mothers.
The number and type of impairments found in children with autism affect the psychological health and social burden of their mothers. Clinicians assessing children can use this information to determine the degree of support to be given to carers. Implementation of early intervention programmes is critical for early detection of autism as well as for the reduction of burden on mothers of such children in the West African region.