Disparity In Autism

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The Racial Disparities With Having Autism Autism is a neurobiological disorder that affects approx-imately 1 child in 150 and occurs equally across demographic groups. While there is a similar rate of occur-rence among African-American children and Caucasian children, there is a disparity in the age of diagnosis between the two groups. African-American children are likely to be diagnosed 1.5 years later than Caucasian children. Because it is critical to the long-term outcomes of children with autism to be diagnosed as early as possible and to participate in interventions, it is imperative that the reasons for this later diagnosis of African-American children be understood and action be taken to eliminate this disparity. This paper will…show more content…
Misdiagnosis, pediatrician-parent relationships, access to health care, and biases of healthcare providers have been studied and discussed in the literature as factors contributing to the delay in diagnosis of African-American children. The misdiagnosis of autism seems to be a factor contributing to a delay in the diagnosis of ASD in general, but particularly to the later diagnosis of ASD in African-American children. Symptoms common to autism, such as delayed speech, poor response to others, and behavioral difficulties, can lead to a misdiagnosis of language impairment or Attention Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). In older children, repetitive behavior may steer clinicians toward a diagnosis of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and non-compliance related to resistance to change may lead clinicians to diagnose Oppositional Defiant Disorder (Mandell, Ittenbach, Levy, & Pinto-Martin, 2006). Mandell et al. (2006) examined the disparities in the diagnosis of children with autism using insurance claims of 406 Medicaid-eligible children, including 242 African-American, 118 Caucasian, 33 Latino, and 13 children falling into other categories. They found that African-American children were three times more likely than Caucasian children to receive another diagnosis first and were 2.6 times less likely than Caucasian children to receive an autism diagnosis on their first specialty care visit (Mandell et al., 2006). Once African-American children entered treatment, they required three times the number of visits over a period three times as long as Caucasian children before receiving an autistic disorder diagnosis (Mandell et al., 2006). African-American children were also 5.1 times more likely than Caucasian children to receive a diagnosis of Adjustment Disorder than of ADHD, and 2.4 times more likely to receive a diagnosis of
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