Minority children less likely to receive early autism spectrum disorders diagnosis, intervention

March 1, 2012

Toddlers of African American, Asian, and Hispanic descent are less likely to be diagnosed early in life with autism spectrum disorders than their white peers.

Toddlers of African American, Asian, and Hispanic descent are less likely to be diagnosed early in life with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) than their white peers.

Researchers investigated whether parents' financial and educational resources and cultural and language barriers are having indirect influences on the early clinical identification of ASD.

Using pretreatment data from participants in an ongoing early intervention study, the researchers compared 19 minority children (mean age, 26.78 months) with 63 white children (mean age, 27.69 months) with diagnoses of ASD confirmed by the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule-Generic.

Most study participants were from upper socioeconomic classes independent of ethnicity, suggesting that early detection of ASD is more likely to occur in highly educated families with financial and educational resources. In contrast, parents of children from diverse ethnic backgrounds and lower socioeconomic status may not identify the early and subtle signs of ASD behavior and view such symptoms as temporary or as part of normal development within their cultural context, say researchers.

Tek S, Landa RJ. Differences in autism symptoms between minority and non-minority toddlers. J Autism Dev Disord. 2012. Epub ahead of print.