Brazil has more than 200 million inhabitants living in an area of more than 8.5 million km2 (Ministério da Saúde, Brasil, 2013a,b). Granting access to health and educational services for populations in such different environments clearly demands different actions and resources. Official policies regarding rehabilitation services and education to children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are being gradually defined and implemented. This article aims to present an overview of the Brazilian health system that considers health as a universal right and a state's duty. Some of the strategies created to provide services to persons with different needs living in different environments are outlined. Specifically in what refers to persons with ASD, there are laws, bills of rights, and guidelines, but their implementation is gradual and uneven. More developed regions provide more comprehensive support to these persons and their families, but some initiatives of outreach are being implemented. Speech–language pathology services are integrated to the health system and present their own challenges. Undergraduate programs for speech–language pathology include ASD as part of the mandatory training, and there are postgraduate studies in the field. Some challenges are being met by several initiatives by different groups as parents, scientific associations, and universities. Issues such as tests and protocols that can be used to Portuguese-speaking children and the identification of efficient methods that can be applied in different situations and orientation to parents and families have been object of research for some decades. There are still many challenges that must be addressed to provide adequate health and educational services to children with ASD and their families in Brazil.
School of Medicine, Universidade de São Paulo (FMUSP) (Drs Fernandes, Defense-Netrval, and Molini-Avejonas), and Autism Spectrum Disorders Research Laboratory (LIF-DEA), FMUSP (Dr Amato), São Paulo, Brazil.
Corresponding Author: Fernanda Dreux Miranda Fernandes, PhD, Departamento de Fisioterapia, Fono-audiologia e Terapia Ocupacional da Faculdade de Medicina da Universidade de São Paulo, Rua Cipotânea, 51, Cidade Universitária, São Paulo, SP, Brazil 05360 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
This study received no funding and there is no conflict of interest.