phat 18(14): e5

Research Article

Confronting Autism in Urban Bangladesh: Unpacking Infrastructural and Cultural Challenges

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  • @ARTICLE{10.4108/eai.13-7-2018.155082,
        author={Upol Ehsan and Nazmus Sakib and Md Munirul Haque and Tanjir Soron and Devansh Saxena and Sheikh Iqbal Ahamed and Amy Schwichtenberg and Golam Rabbani and Shaheen Akter and Faruq Alam and Azima Begum and Syed Ishtiaque Ahmed},
        title={Confronting Autism in Urban Bangladesh: Unpacking Infrastructural and Cultural Challenges},
        journal={EAI Endorsed Transactions on Pervasive Health and Technology},
        keywords={autism, Bangladesh, stigma, mental health, mobile health, understanding users, ecological design, ICTD},
  • Upol Ehsan
    Nazmus Sakib
    Md Munirul Haque
    Tanjir Soron
    Devansh Saxena
    Sheikh Iqbal Ahamed
    Amy Schwichtenberg
    Golam Rabbani
    Shaheen Akter
    Faruq Alam
    Azima Begum
    Syed Ishtiaque Ahmed
    Year: 2018
    Confronting Autism in Urban Bangladesh: Unpacking Infrastructural and Cultural Challenges
    DOI: 10.4108/eai.13-7-2018.155082
Upol Ehsan1,*, Nazmus Sakib2, Md Munirul Haque3, Tanjir Soron4, Devansh Saxena2, Sheikh Iqbal Ahamed2, Amy Schwichtenberg3, Golam Rabbani4, Shaheen Akter5, Faruq Alam6, Azima Begum7, Syed Ishtiaque Ahmed8
  • 1: School of Interactive Computing, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA 30332, United States
  • 2: Department of MSCS, Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI 53233, United States
  • 3: Regenstrief Center for Healthcare Engineering, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907, United States
  • 4: Neurodevelopmental Disability Protection Trust, Bangladesh
  • 5: Institute of Pediatric Neurodisorder and Autism, Bangladesh
  • 6: National Institute of Mental Health, Dhaka, Bangladesh
  • 7: Dhaka Medical College and Hospital, Dhaka, Bangladesh
  • 8: Department of Computer Science, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
*Contact email:


Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a critical problem worldwide; however, low and middle-income countries (LMICs) often suffer more from it due to the lack of contextual research and effective care infrastructure. Moreover, ASD in LMICs offers unique challenges as cultural misperceptions and social practices often impede effective care there. However, the recent growth in mobile phone adoption in many LMICs has created a timely opportunity for improving ASD care practices through digital means. We present qualitative findings on the challenges of designing mobile assistive technologies for ASD in Bangladesh. Our data reveals a set of technical, social, and cultural challenges with caregivers and care professionals for designing a meaningful technology for them. We show how those challenges are deeply rooted in the broader infrastructural and cultural tensions of the country. We also present embedded design implications to overcome these challenges.