Autism and children of color

27 Mar

Lauran Neergaard reported in the Huffington Post article, Autism Not Diagnosed As Early In Minority Children: Study:

Her preliminary research suggests even when diagnosed in toddlerhood, minority youngsters have more severe developmental delays than their white counterparts. She says cultural differences in how parents view developmental milestones, and how they interact with doctors, may play a role.

Consider: Tots tend to point before they talk, but pointing is rude in some cultures and may not be missed by a new parent, Landa says. Or maybe mom’s worried that her son isn’t talking yet but the family matriarch, her grandmother, says don’t worry – Cousin Harry spoke late, too, and he’s fine. Or maybe the pediatrician dismissed the parents’ concern, and they were taught not to question doctors.

It’s possible to detect autism as early as 14 months of age, and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that youngsters be screened for it starting at 18 months. While there’s no cure, behavioral and other therapies are thought to work best when started very young.

Yet on average, U.S. children aren’t diagnosed until they’re about 4 1/2 years old, according to government statistics.

And troubling studies show that white kids may be diagnosed with autism as much as a year and a half earlier than black and other minority children, says University of Pennsylvania autism expert David Mandell, who led much of that work. Socioeconomics can play a role, if minority families have less access to health care or less education.

But Mandell says the full story is more complex. One of his own studies, for example, found that black children with autism were more likely than whites to get the wrong diagnosis during their first visit with a specialist.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/28/autism-not-diagnosed-as-early-in-minority-children_n_1306272.html

See, New Study Shows Minority Toddlers with Autism are More Delayed than Affected Caucasian Peers http://www.kennedykrieger.org/overview/news/new-study-shows-minority-toddlers-autism-are-more-delayed-affected-caucasian-peers

Citation:

Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

DOI: 10.1007/s10803-012-1445-8

Original Paper

Differences in Autism Symptoms Between Minority and Non-Minority Toddlers

Saime Tek and Rebecca J. Landa

The number of children with autism appears to be growing.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides statistics on the number of children with autism in the section Data and Statistics:

Prevalence

  • It is estimated that between 1 in 80 and 1 in 240 with an average of 1 in 110 children in the United States have an ASD. [Read article
  • ASDs are reported to occur in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups, yet are on average 4 to 5 times more likely to occur in boys than in girls.  However, we need more information on some less studied populations and regions around the world. [Read article]
  • Studies in Asia, Europe, and North America have identified individuals with an ASD with an approximate prevalence of 0.6% to over 1%. A recent study in South Korea reported a prevalence of 2.6%. [Data table Adobe PDF file]
  • Approximately 13% of children have a developmental disability, ranging from mild disabilities such as speech and language impairments to serious developmental disabilities, such as intellectual disabilities, cerebral palsy, and autism.  [Read articleExternal Web Site Icon]

Learn more about prevalence of ASDs »

Learn more about the ADDM Project »

Learn more about the MADDSP Project »

On this Page

http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/data.html

In order for children with autism to reach their full potential there must be early diagnosis and treatment.

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has an autism fact sheet

What is autism?

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a range of complex neurodevelopment disorders, characterized by social impairments, communication difficulties, and restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped patterns of behavior.  Autistic disorder, sometimes called autism or classical ASD, is the most severe form of ASD, while other conditions along the spectrum include a milder form known as Asperger syndrome, and childhood disintegrative disorder and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (usually referred to as PDD-NOS).  Although ASD varies significantly in character and severity, it occurs in all ethnic and socioeconomic groups and affects every age group.  Experts estimate that six children out of every 1,000 will have an ASD.  Males are four times more likely to have an ASD than females.

What are some common signs of autism?

The hallmark feature of ASD is impaired social interaction.  As early as infancy, a baby with ASD may be unresponsive to people or focus intently on one item to the exclusion of others for long periods of time.  A child with ASD may appear to develop normally and then withdraw and become indifferent to social engagement.

Children with an ASD may fail to respond to their names and often avoid eye contact with other people.  They have difficulty interpreting what others are thinking or feeling because they can’t understand social cues, such as tone of voice or facial expressions, and don’t watch other people’s faces for clues about appropriate behavior.  They lack empathy.

Many children with an ASD engage in repetitive movements such as rocking and twirling, or in self-abusive behavior such as biting or head-banging.  They also tend to start speaking later than other children and may refer to themselves by name instead of “I” or “me.”  Children with an ASD don’t know how to play interactively with other children.  Some speak in a sing-song voice about a narrow range of favorite topics, with little regard for the interests of the person to whom they are speaking.

Children with characteristics of an ASD may have co-occurring conditions, including Fragile X syndrome (which causes mental retardation), tuberous sclerosis, epileptic seizures, Tourette syndrome, learning disabilities, and attention deficit disorder.  About 20 to 30 percent of children with an ASD develop epilepsy by the time they reach adulthood. .

How is autism diagnosed?

ASD varies widely in severity and symptoms and may go unrecognized, especially in mildly affected children or when it is masked by more debilitating handicaps.  Very early indicators that require evaluation by an expert include:

  • no babbling or pointing by age 1
  • no single words by 16 months or two-word phrases by age 2
  • no response to name
  • loss of language or social skills
  • poor eye contact
  • excessive lining up of toys or objects
  • no smiling or social responsiveness.

Later indicators include:

  • impaired ability to make friends with peers
  • impaired ability to initiate or sustain a conversation with others
  • absence or impairment of imaginative and social play
  • stereotyped, repetitive, or unusual use of language
  • restricted patterns of interest that are abnormal in intensity or focus
  • preoccupation with certain objects or subjects
  • inflexible adherence to specific routines or rituals.

Health care providers will often use a questionnaire or other screening instrument to gather information about a child’s development and behavior.  Some screening instruments rely solely on parent observations, while others rely on a combination of parent and doctor observations.  If screening instruments indicate the possibility of an ASD, a more comprehensive evaluation is usually indicated….

What causes autism?

Scientists aren’t certain about what causes ASD, but it’s likely that both genetics and environment play a role.  Researchers have identified a number of genes associated with the disorder.  Studies of people with ASD have found irregularities in several regions of the brain.  Other studies suggest that people with ASD have abnormal levels of serotonin or other neurotransmitters in the brain.  These abnormalities suggest that ASD could result from the disruption of normal brain development early in fetal development caused by defects in genes that control brain growth and that regulate how brain cells communicate with each other, possibly due to the influence of environmental factors on gene function.  While these findings are intriguing, they are preliminary and require further study.  The theory that parental practices are responsible for ASD has long been disproved….

Parents must pay attention to whether their children are developing within the parameters of what is appropriate for the child’s age.

Resources:

For more information on neurological disorders or research programs funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, contact the Institute’s Brain Resources and Information Network (BRAIN) at:

BRAIN
P.O. Box 5801
Bethesda, MD 20824
(800) 352-9424
http://www.ninds.nih.gov

Association for Science in Autism Treatment
P.O. Box 188
Crosswicks, NJ   08515-0188
info@asatonline.org
http://www.asatonline.org

Autism National Committee (AUTCOM)
P.O. Box 429
Forest Knolls, CA   94933
http://www.autcom.org

Autism Network International (ANI)
P.O. Box 35448
Syracuse, NY   13235-5448
jisincla@syr.edu
http://www.ani.ac

Autism Research Institute (ARI)
4182 Adams Avenue
San Diego, CA   92116
director@autism.com
http://www.autismresearchinstitute.com
Tel: 866-366-3361
Fax: 619-563-6840

Autism Science Foundation
419 Lafayette Street
2nd floor
New York, NY   10003
contactus@autismsciencefoundation.org
http://www.autismsciencefoundation.org/
Tel: 646-723-3978
Fax: 212-228-3557

Autism Society of America
4340 East-West Highway
Suite 350
Bethesda, MD   20814
http://www.autism-society.org
Tel: 301-657-0881 800-3AUTISM (328-8476)
Fax: 301-657-0869

Autism Speaks, Inc.
2 Park Avenue
11th Floor
New York, NY   10016
contactus@autismspeaks.org
http://www.autismspeaks.org
Tel: 212-252-8584 California: 310-230-3568
Fax: 212-252-8676

Birth Defect Research for Children, Inc.
976 Lake Baldwin Lane
Suite 104
Orlando, FL   32814
betty@birthdefects.org
http://www.birthdefects.org
Tel: 407-895-0802

MAAP Services for Autism, Asperger Syndrome, and PDD
P.O. Box 524
Crown Point, IN   46308
info@aspergersyndrome.org
http://www.aspergersyndrome.org/
Tel: 219-662-1311
Fax: 219-662-1315

National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities
U.S. Dept. of Education, Office of Special Education Programs
1825 Connecticut Avenue NW, Suite 700
Washington, DC   20009
nichcy@aed.org
http://www.nichcy.org
Tel: 800-695-0285 202-884-8200
Fax: 202-884-8441

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)
National Institutes of Health, DHHS
31 Center Drive, Rm. 2A32 MSC 2425
Bethesda, MD   20892-2425
http://www.nichd.nih.gov
Tel: 301-496-5133
Fax: 301-496-7101

National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Information Clearinghouse
1 Communication Avenue
Bethesda, MD   20892-3456
nidcdinfo@nidcd.nih.gov
http://www.nidcd.nih.gov
Tel: 800-241-1044 800-241-1055 (TTD/TTY)

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)
National Institutes of Health, DHHS
111 T.W. Alexander Drive
Research Triangle Park, NC   27709
webcenter@niehs.nih.gov
http://www.niehs.nih.gov
Tel: 919-541-3345

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
National Institutes of Health, DHHS
6001 Executive Blvd. Rm. 8184, MSC 9663
Bethesda, MD   20892-9663
nimhinfo@nih.gov
http://www.nimh.nih.gov
Tel: 301-443-4513/866-415-8051 301-443-8431 (TTY)
Fax: 301-443-4279

“Autism Fact Sheet,” NINDS. Publication date September 2009.

NIH Publication No. 09-1877

Back to Autism Information Page

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4 Responses to “Autism and children of color”

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