Original Article

Knowledge and awareness of autism spectrum disorder among Libyans

Ariej M. Mustafa, Dhiba Grifa, Afaf Shebani, Salah Alharabi, Khalid Alnajjar
Journal of Public Health in Africa | Vol 14, No 12 | a24 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4081/jphia.2023.2762 | © 2024 Ariej M. Mustafa, Dhiba Grifa, Afaf Shebani, Salah Alharabi, Khalid Alnajjar | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 12 March 2024 | Published: 30 December 2023

About the author(s)

Ariej M. Mustafa, National Center for Diagnosis and Treatment of Autistic Children, Tripoli, Libya; and, Department of Genetic Engineering, Biotechnology Research Center, Tripoli, Libya
Dhiba Grifa, National Center for Diagnosis and Treatment of Autistic Children, Tripoli, Libya; and, Department of Psychology and Education, University of Tripoli, Tripoli, Libya
Afaf Shebani, National Center for Diagnosis and Treatment of Autistic Children, Tripoli, Libya; and, Department of Genetic Engineering, Biotechnology Research Center, Tripoli, Libya
Salah Alharabi, National Center for Diagnosis and Treatment of Autistic Children, Tripoli, Libya
Khalid Alnajjar, National Center for Diagnosis and Treatment of Autistic Children, Tripoli, Libya

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Abstract

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevel‑ opmental disorder characterized by the presence of delayed or defective development before the age of three years, as well as behavioral difficulties in social communication and interac‑ tion. To evaluate ASD knowledge and awareness, as well as ASD information sources in a sample of the Libyan general population, and to explore factors that could be associated with the knowledge and awareness. A cross‑sectional study was carried out between 22 March and 13 August, 2022 using a self‑administered questionnaire. The study included 2350 individual aged 18 and up from households living in different regions in Libya (eastern, southern, central, and western). Out of 2195 participants, 48.9% were females and 51.1% were males. Three‑quarters of the participants (74.8%) presented a low level of knowledge about autism causes. Of those whose source of knowledge of autism was social media, 78.9% had a low level of knowledge. However, 57.9% of the participants showed a good level of awareness of autism symptoms and signs. The participants had a limited understanding of the causes and characteristics of ASD. Raising community aware‑ ness of the causes and characteristics of ASD is a priority.

Keywords

Autism spectrum disorder; awareness; knowledge; Libya

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