The Somali Community's Experiences with Autism: An Exploratory Study


Social Work

Date of Paper/Work


Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)

Type of Paper/Work

Clinical research paper


Sarah Ferguson


Recent studies indicate that children of immigrants are up to four times more likely to have an autism diagnosis than the general population (Barnevik-Olsson, Gillbert, & Fernell, 2008). Emerging research demonstrates that Somali immigrants are one of the immigrant groups disproportionally affected by the condition (Minnesota Department of Health, 2009). The purpose of this study was to explore how the Somali community experiences and perceives the condition of autism. The study consisted of interviews with community professionals who work with Somali families affected by autism. The findings of this research indicate that autism is a new concept for many Somali immigrants. The study found that the differences in views of childhood development between Somali and American cultures contribute to how Somali immigrant parents perceive autism. The study also found that Somali parents experience several barriers when accessing the service system. The findings of this study support the need for further autism education and outreach efforts to this population.


autism, Somali, perceptions, barriers

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.