Limited research has been published about the demographic characteristics of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) in South Africa. Describing the profiles of learners from a school for children with ASD may contribute knowledge to the field and build a database of South African children with ASD. A retrospective comparative research design was used, comparing the demographic characteristics of learners over two time intervals, i.e. 1992–2002 (Group 1, n=32) and 2003–2014 (Group 2, n=109). A total of 141 historical admission records in hard copy files were reviewed. In this case report the increase in the number of learners admitted at the school per year may indicate that there was an increase in the number of children diagnosed with ASD in the school’s catchment area. Results indicated that there is a large male gender predisposition (8.4:1) in learners, which increased over the years. At this stage no explanation can be offered for this unexpected finding. The age of the child when parents became concerned and age at diagnosis and assessment at the school increased over the two time periods. It is concerning that ASD diagnoses in recent years among the school children were increasingly conducted by single professionals, whereas the trend in developed countries is a large and diverse multidisciplinary team. There was an increase in diversity of home languages in learners after 2002. Parental qualifications decreased, but social class increased in recent years. The low qualification of a mother was associated with an advanced age of the child at school entry. The data serves as a point of reference for future studies on the characteristics of school children with ASD in South Africa.
Dissertation (MComm Path)--University of Pretoria, 2015.