Can Differing Reports of Autistic Children Have Anything to do with their Ethnicity?
Racial differences are seen to be a major concern for healthcare providers as they believe inaccurate reports by parents about their child’s ASD might result in a delayed autism diagnosis in non-Caucasian children, as per a study by researchers at Georgia State University.
Further, the study uncovered noticeable differences between Caucasian parents and African-American parents and observed that African-American parents were less likely to report their children’s autism symptoms.
The common group of symptoms that parents are less likely to report include monotonous behaviors and social deficits.
When parents report arising symptoms during the first 24 months of a child’s life, this helps them to receive timely medication and an accurate diagnosis. However, with African-American children, autism symptoms were seen to be diagnosed at a much later stage.
African-American children are further seen to be twice as likely to be misdiagnosed; for instance when autism symptoms are thought to simply be misbehavior in comparison to their peers.
There have been multiple studies prior to this study that has explored the underlying reasons behind increasing instances of racial disparity in autism diagnosis. Some researchers suggest that unequal access might be one of the core reasons behind the condition not being accurately recognized.
On the other hand, some argue that African-American parents may report their children’s symptoms in a way that could de-emphasize autism symptoms while highlighting other disruptive behaviors.
These things could result in hindering providers from appropriately providing their services.
The present study is also seen to offer helpful insights into delayed autism diagnosis for young African-American children while also examining parental race considerations.
Interestingly, some of the earlier studies have also uncovered critical details regarding parental characteristics that directly influence how they report concerns.
Further, parents reported cases pertaining to their male child’s development while the data were compared in regard to how parents of different genders reported data in a pre-defined time frame.
At times, African-American parents were seen to underreport their children’s symptoms.
To understand more clearly, researchers observed 174 toddlers aged between 18 and 40 months and their parents from Connecticut and Atlanta. The children were evaluated for autism symptoms and those who tested positive were invited to take part in a free autism diagnostic evaluation program.
Prior to evaluation, parents of autistic children were asked to complete a questionnaire that was designed to solicit their concerns about their children’s development and behavioral abilities.
The responses obtained were categorized into 2 categories, namely:
- Non-Autism Concerns
- Autism Concerns
African-American parents were seen to report fewer ASD concerns than their Caucasian counterparts. Nevertheless, race did not come into play for non-autistic concerns. It should also be noted that race in no way influenced the results of a child’s disruptive behavioral concerns.
Researchers highlight the grave implications of the above results. Lower rates of reporting or non-reporting of ASD-related concerns by African-American parents may affect the abilities of healthcare providers to correctly identify children who may be in need of further evaluation or screening.
Meghan Rose explains, “Lesser reporting of autism symptoms could result in delayed or missed diagnoses, since healthcare officials, more often than not, rely on parental reports in order to understand a child’s behavior.”