Objective: To map the landscape of research on autism (ASD), cerebral palsy (CP), and fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) in Canadian Aboriginal children.
Method: The authors used a detailed search strategy to identify and access publications on ASD, CP, and FASD involving Canadian Aboriginal children, families, and communities from online databases. They analyzed these materials for the type of research, stated objectives, methodologies, and the level of engagement of Aboriginal Peoples.
Results: The authors found a total of 52 reports published since 1981 relevant to Aboriginal children. Of these, 51 focused exclusively on FASD. They also found a near-complete failure to acknowledge community involvement in research decisions or dissemination of results in any of the publications.
Conclusions: The focus on FASD in Aboriginal children and the absence of research on the other 2 major childhood disorders are at odds with rates of these disorders across Canadian children. The authors argue that this trend violates fundamental principles ensuring equitable representation of all children regardless of background in research and access to benefits of research in health care and perpetuates stigma in an already marginalized population.