Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 48, Issue 6, pp 1995–2009 | Cite as

Amor and Social Stigma: ASD Beliefs Among Immigrant Mexican Parents

Original Paper


This study examined cultural beliefs about ASD and its causes among Mexican-heritage families. In focus group interviews, we asked 25 immigrant parents of children with ASD to identify words they associated with ASD and its causes. Participants free-listed, ranked, and justified their responses. Mixed methods analyses utilized saliency scores to calculate responses. Deductive interview analyses justified participants’ responses. Salient responses for ASD perceptions included specific characteristics about the child (e.g., loving) and perceptions about lack of resources. Salient responses for ASD causes were vaccines, genetics, and a combination of genetics and environment. Inductive analyses revealed distinct beliefs about social stigma, child characteristics, factors supporting development, and parents’ emotional stress. Interpretations linked these beliefs to promising adaptations in diagnosis and treatment.


Latino families Mexican-heritage parents Beliefs ASD cause Mixed methods analysis 



The authors would like to acknowledge the Yankelovich Center for Social Science Research: a non-profit foundation at University of California San Diego for partially supporting this study. The authors would also like to acknowledge the families who participated in this study and to the students who participated in data collection and analysis. An earlier iteration of this paper was presented as a Poster at the 2017 IMFAR Conference.

Author Contributions

SRC conceived and designed the study. She also participated in coordination, implementation, data interpretation, and she drafted the manuscript. JM participated in the design of the study, data coodination and collection, assisted with data interpretation, and collaborated on drafting the manuscript. Both authors read and approved the final manuscript.


This study was partially funded by the Yankelovich Center at University of California San Diego.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

Shana R. Cohen has received research grants from the Yankelovich Center at University of California San Diego. Jessica Miguel declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Supplementary material

10803_2017_3457_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (114 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 113 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Education StudiesUniversity of California San DiegoLa JollaUSA

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