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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Symptoms and Ethnicity

In The Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, Saime Tek and Rebecca J. Landa write:
Little is known about whether early symptom presentation differs in toddlers with ASD from ethnic minority versus non-minority backgrounds. Within a treatment study for toddlers with ASD, we compared 19 minority to 65 Caucasian children and their parents on variables obtained from the Mullen Scales of Early Learning, Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule, and Communication and Symbolic Behavior Scales Caregiver Questionnaire. The majority of parents were from the upper classes irrespective of ethnic membership. Minority children had lower scores in language, communication, and gross motor than non-minority children. Findings indicate that subtle communication delays may be undetected or presumed unremarkable by parents of minority toddlers, and that more significant delays are needed to prompt the search for intervention services.
Daily Rx  reports on the study:
Even when controlling for the socioeconomic status of the kids, Landa'steam found a significant difference between the development of the minority children and the non-minority children.
"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," Landa said.
"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," she added.
Landa's previous research has shown that children can be diagnosed with autism as early as 14 months old, and early detection is essential for early intervention.
It appears that minority children may not be receiving a diagnosis of autism early enough to receive the same intervention that white children are receiving after an early diagnosis.
Landa said the disparity between when minority children are diagnosed and when white children are diagnosed could stem from cultural differences.
Different communities may have divergent perceptions of typical versus atypical development in children,
Further, some cultures may have a greater stigma surrounding disabilities and slower development, so Landa suggests that education and awareness could go a long way in these communities.