A cultural understanding of autism:
Nature has a fascinating article on the diagnosis of autism and how it clashes with cultures that have different forms of everyday social interaction and different standards for how children should behave.
In rural South Africa, young children may look at adults’ faces while having a conversation, but they don’t usually make direct eye contact because it is considered disrespectful. Yet a lack of eye contact is a hallmark of social deficits in people with autism, and as such it is something Western clinicians look for when diagnosing the disorder.
There are other examples of children’s behaviour – such as finger pointing to draw attention to something, or conversing with adults as if they are peers – that are commonplace in the West and included in tests of autism.