MALTREATMENT IN AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER CHILDREN FROM PARENT’S PERSPECTIVE IN BANGLADESH: A CROSS-SECTIONAL STUDY
Children with disabilities are at an increased risk of experiencing child maltreatment (CM). We aimed to estimate the prevalence of different forms of CM among children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in Bangladesh. We interviewed 45 randomly selected mothers of ASD children who attended a tertiary care hospital in Dhaka, Bangladesh, to treat their children. Data regarding CM was collected using a standard screening tool recommended by the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (ISPCAN). We asked mothers to report about their child-rearing practices to identify CM, including physical, psychological, and sexual abuse, and neglect, along with their non-violent disciplinary practices. The children's age range was 3 to 9 years, and approximately 82 percent were boys. All children were found to have experiences of physical and psychological abuse throughout their childhood. Seventy-three percent of children experienced neglect during the past year while 82 percent during their entire childhood. The reported prevalence of sexual abuse was 4.4 percent in the past year and 8.9 percent during their childhood. However, all parents followed non-violent disciplinary practices, and the prevalence of maltreatment did not differ between boys and girls. Higher instances of CM in Bangladesh, especially among ASD children, raise concern for its adverse social consequences and calls for appropriate mitigation practices as proclaimed by the United Nations Child Rights Charter.
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