Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorders in Qatar

Thursday, May 17, 2012
Sheraton Hall (Sheraton Centre Toronto)
2:00 PM
F. Alshaban, Shafallah Medical Genetics Center, Doha, Qatar

Prevalence rate of autism-spectrum disorders (ASD) in Qatar is uncertain, and speculation that their incidence is increasing continues to cause concern.

Although the apparent increased prevalence of autism may reflect improved detection and recognition of autism and its variants.

 No comprehensive survey has been done to estimate the prevalence of Autism in Qatar.

Objectives: To estimate the prevalence of autism-spectrum disorders among Qatari families, and other families resided in Qatar.Also to look for certain social, ethnic, and cultural factors and its association with the prevalence.


The target population for this study is children aged 3 through 18 years whose parents resided in Qatar.

Children with ASD in Qatar going to be identified using a two-phase process.

In Phase 1,

  1. Children from a representative sample of all primary schools in Qatar going to be preliminarily screened using Social Communications Questionnaires, and those who are suspected to have ASD will be approached through phase 2.


  1. Review of records of children with possible ASD from the following institutions:

1). Shafallah Center for children with special needs records, which includes all children with preliminary diagnosis of ASD, who attends special classes for Autism.

2). Other centers and school which has similar facilities.

3). Records from the Supreme Counsel of Health, Hamad Medical Corporation, and any other health centers.

In Phase 2,

Clinical evaluation is conducted by a developmental psychologist, and/or pediatrician, it includes a medical, developmental, and behavioral history; a standard physical and neurologic examination, In addition, the Autism Diagnostic Interview (ADI-R), and Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule-G (ADOS-G) will be administered.


Preliminary analysis of 179 subjects showed the highest prevalence among age group 7-14 years (61%).

Male/female ratio was 82% /18%, which is around 5/1.

Further works needed to calculate the total prevalence rate.


Obtaining a reliable estimate is important in planning for providing the best health care and educational services needed to improve the overall outcome of Autism.

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