In urban areas of South Korea, some families of children with developmental delays will go to great lengths to avoid a diagnosis of chapae, or autism. They think of it as a genetic mark of shame on the entire family, and a major obstacle to all of their children’s chances of finding suitable spouses.
The stigma is so intense that many Korean clinicians intentionally misdiagnose these children with aechak changae, or reactive detachment disorder — social withdrawal that is caused by extreme parental abuse or neglect.
“The parents prefer this [diagnosis] because the mother can take the bullet and protect everybody else,” says Roy Richard Grinker, professor of anthropology at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., who has screened some 38,000 children in South Korea for the country’s first study of autism prevalence.
Read more at…