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Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Cultural Differences and Autism Research

 In The Politics of Autism, I discuss diagnosis, which depends on observation of behavior.  There are multiple problems with this approach, including cultural differences.

At Autism Research, Megan Golson and colleagues have an article titled "Cultural differences in social communication and interaction: A gap in autism research."  The lay summary:

A diagnosis of autism requires the presence of deficits in social communication and interaction. Examples of these behaviors and skills include holding a back-and-forth conversation, the use of nonverbal communicative behaviors (e.g., gestures), and developing and maintaining social relationships. Culture influences the expectations for, and presentation of, these behaviors. However, research on this topic is lacking. Conducting more research related to culture and social communication could help reduce the disparities in autism identification across racially and ethnically minoritized populations.

From the article: 

Differing developmental and cultural expectations are problematic as the majority of diagnostic measures forautism are normed on fairly homogenous samples representing predominately White, Western individuals with minimal guidance on how practitioners can increase culturally responsive assessment practices (Harris et al.,2014). Stronach and Wetherby (2017) found that Black and Latinx caregivers reported more autism symptoms and SC/I deficits than White caregivers. Additionally,Black and Latinx children had significantly lower scores on speech-language observation measures than White children. Whether this is due to cultural differences inlanguage expression or examiner scoring bias is unclear.