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Racial differences in the diagnosis of autism


When considering ethnic differences in children with autism, children from a minority background have more delayed language, communication and gross motor skills than Caucasian children with autism. These subtle developmental delays may be going unnoticed and unaddressed at least until more significant symptoms develop as the children age.

Rates in autism do not differ across racial lines. In fact, some studies show that African American, Hispanic and Asian children are less likely to develop the autism than Caucasian children. Dr. Rebecca Landa, director of the Center for Autism and Related Disorders at Kennedy Krieger Institute wondered whether acknowledgment of symptoms of autism in the toddlers was playing a role in the disparity of diagnosis. This was part of a larger body of work to improve access and education to minority communities.

“We found the toddlers in the minority group were significantly further behind than the non-minority group in development of language and motor skills and showed more severe autism symptoms in their communication abilities,” explained Landa. “It’s really troubling when we look at these data alongside diagnosis statistics because they suggest that children in need of early detection and intervention are not getting it.”

Early diagnosis is critical in the treatment of autism and autism related delays particularly with speech. For the minority communities, delay in diagnosis of ASD and therefore of critical intervention is truly detrimental to the children’s future and the community as a whole.

Dr. Landa pointed out cultural differences in what respective communities perceive as typical and atypical development in children. There are also stigma in some minority communities around the acknowledgment of disabilities which prevents early intervention.

Source: Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, MedicalNewsToday

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