Racial differences in parents’ reports of concerns about their child’s development to healthcare providers may contribute to delayed diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in black children, according to a study led by Georgia State University.
The study found that compared to white parents, black parents reported significantly fewer concerns related to symptoms of ASD in their children with the disorder. Black parents were less likely than white parents to report concerns about two ASD symptoms – social deficits and restricted and repetitive behaviors. The findings are published in the journal Autism.
Many parents begin reporting concerns about ASD during the child’s first two years of life, and on average, children are diagnosed with ASD around their fourth birthday. However, black children are diagnosed with ASD at older ages than white children and children of other races. They are also nearly twice as likely as children of other races to be misdiagnosed with disruptive behavior disorders before receiving an ASD diagnosis.The abstract:
Autism. 2017 Nov 1:1362361317722030. doi: 10.1177/1362361317722030. [Epub ahead of print] Race influences parent report of concerns about symptoms of autism spectrum disorder.
Donohue MR, Childs AW, Richards M, Robins DL.
Racial differences in parent report of concerns about their child's development to healthcare providers may contribute to delayed autism spectrum disorder diagnoses in Black children. We tested the hypotheses that compared to White parents, Black parents of children with autism spectrum disorder would report fewer concerns about autism symptoms and would be more likely to report concerns about disruptive behaviors. A sample of 18- to 40-month-old toddlers ( N = 174) with autism spectrum disorder and their parent participated. After screening positive for autism spectrum disorder risk, but prior to a diagnostic evaluation, parents completed free-response questions soliciting concerns about their child's development. Parent responses were coded for the presence or the absence of 10 possible concerns, which were grouped into autism concerns (e.g. social and restricted and repetitive behavior concerns) or non-autism concerns (e.g. general developmental and disruptive behavior concerns). Compared to White parents, Black parents reported significantly fewer autism concerns and fewer social and restricted and repetitive behavior concerns. However, Black parents did not report significantly fewer non-autism concerns. Race did not influence parent report of disruptive behavior concerns. Lower reporting of autism concerns by Black parents may impact providers' abilities to identify children who need further screening or evaluation.