Autism in China’s media coverage skips science

Lana Bandoim's picture

Media coverage about autism is increasing around the globe, but this has not stopped some countries from limiting the type of information that is accessible to people. China has a notorious problem with censorship, and newspapers continue to suffer. Now, people who are interested in learning more about autism are not able to get a complete understanding of the disorder from the media.

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China’s restrictions are creating a limited perspective on autism in newspapers. A study published in Health Communication reveals that information about autism is being presented without science. It is important to note that China often refers to autism as the lonely disease, so researchers had to use both terms to collect data. Although the study found that more coverage of autism occurred in recent years, it was categorized into several areas that do not reveal the full picture of the disorder.

Researchers found that most articles about autism in China focused on charities and fundraising. This is an important part of figuring out the condition and helping autistic people, but the newspapers are neglecting enormous amounts of research. In addition, the papers are not quoting experts or getting real medical advice from doctors. Instead, most stories center on a family’s struggle with autism, the need for money or school issues. The most disturbing trend in China’s media is the promotion of autism cures that are generally viewed as a fraud or dangerous. There are also numerous treatments being endorsed that have not been tested or approved by the medical community and ignore scientific facts.

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In China, researchers explain that autism is viewed as a family problem instead of a medical issue. The lack of science in the newspaper articles seems to support the view, but experts argue that censorship should not be forgotten. The media is controlled by the government, so people rarely get the full story.

Read more about autism:
Medicaid coverage of autism services ordered by CMS
Police handcuff autistic boy and force him to stay on top of squad car trunk

Image: TUBS/Wikimedia Commons

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