Newspapers in the U.S. are replete with stories about autism. That’s not necessarily the case in many other parts of the world, where autism tends to be unknown or misunderstood by both the public and health professionals.
In China, newspaper coverage of autism has increased over the past decade, according to a new study, but those media reports often do not discuss scientific facts, and they cite family members of people with the disorder more often than health professionals or researchers. That could send the message that autism is a family issue, rather than a medical or societal one, the authors say.
The study, published 29 July in Health Communication, analyzed the content of 795 news stories containing the Chinese words for ‘autism’ and ‘lonely disease,’ a name sometimes used to refer to the disorder. The articles were published between 2003 and 2012 in five of the country’s most popular daily newspapers.