Search This Blog

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Autism and Latinos

Here is a followup to a story about a Massachusetts study, the subject of a post a couple of weeks ago. Soni Sangha writes at Fox News Latino:

According to the data from 2001, white children had the highest rate of autism, 90 percent higher than Hispanic children. By 2005, there was virtually no difference.

Experts say it’s because of the improved ability to diagnose the disorder.

“This is good news that we are identifying Hispanic children with autism early,” said José Cordero, the vice chairman of the board of directors of the Autism Society.


While this research shows positive steps are being taken to address autism in the Latino population, how this syndrome presents itself in this ethnic community -- and what that means for patient care -- is being investigated in other studies across the country.

For example, Latino children with autism tend to score significantly lower in their cognitive tests than their white counterparts. Some research is exploring whether that difference could be attributed to bilingualism.

“In [published research] you start getting the feeling that Hispanics have more severe cognitive disabilities,” said Virginia Chaidez, who is a researcher at UC Davis who has focused on health issues in the Latino community. “But the measure being used weighs heavily on language. [Practitioners] may need to be aware that if a child is multilingual ... their cognitive abilities develop differently and they need to keep an eye on the kid a little closer.”

Regardless of the questions that remain unanswered, experts in the field of autism say there has been significant progress in care.

Cordero has been a pediatrician for 30 years. In that time things have changed greatly.

“No one wanted to speak about autism because there was very little people thought that could be done,” said Cordero. “The message today is that there is great hope. There are different strategies that can help and early recognition is crucial.”