Introduction: The diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is complex. In
a low middle income country, like South Africa, early recognition of ASD rarely
occurs on the primary health care (PHC) platform. To mitigate late diagnosis of
ASD, which has a poorer prognosis, the purpose of this study was to identify the
knowledge and clinical competencies required by inexperienced occupational
therapists to improve early detection of and service delivery for children with
ASD at the PHC level.
Methods: A descriptive qualitative design explored the perceptions of
occupational therapy experts as to the required knowledge and clinical
competencies necessary for inexperienced occupational therapists to deliver
services to children with ASD on the PHC platform. Thematic inductive analysis
was used to analyse the data.
Findings: Two themes emerged: Theme one: the perceived critical knowledge
for early identification, assessment and treatment of children with ASD. Theme
two: the clinical competencies required for assessment and effective treatment
of children with ASD on the PHC level.
Conclusion: This study identified the perceived knowledge and clinical
competencies needed to improve early identification and service communitybased
delivery for children with ASD on the PHC platform by early career
IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE
• This study provides critical knowledge and clinical competencies to
occupational therapists to facilitate effective therapeutic services to
children with ASD on the PHC platform.
• The study identified appropriate screening, assessment and intervention
that could assist occupational therapy service planners to reduce the gap of
service delivery for children with ASD within the concept of UHC provision
on a community-based level in SA.
• Faculty at tertiary educational institutions may utilise the findings in order to
adapt curriculums to better prepare inexperienced occupational therapists
with working with children with ASD on the community-based level.
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Copyright (c) 2023 South African Journal of Occupational Therapy