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Thursday, April 5, 2012

Social Class and Trajectories

Dr. Claire McCarthy writes at The Boston Globe:
A study just came out with some very interesting information about how children with autism do or don't get better over time. Guess which ones did better?

The ones whose mothers were white and educated.

It's true. Researchers looked at the records of more than 6000 children ages two to 14 with autism followed by the Department of Developmental Services in California. They found that for the most part, even though they made progress, children who were low-functioning when they were diagnosed stayed low-functioning. Children who were high-functioning at diagnosis made more progress. And then there was a really interesting group, about ten percent of the children, who they called "Bloomers". Bloomers started out low-functioning, and then made rapid progress and ended up as high-functioning.

The researchers also had birth data about the children, which gave them information about the mothers: their age, place of birth, race, education level, and whether or not they were on Medi-Cal, the public insurance for low-income people. This is where it got really interesting. The researchers found that:

  • Low-functioning children were more likely to have mothers who were minority/foreign born, less educated, and on Medi-Cal
  • High-functioning children were more likely to have mothers who were white, more educated, and not on Medi-Cal
  • Bloomers were more likely to have mothers who were white and educated.