Racial and Ethnic Differences in Autism Awareness
(School of Public Health (UMD) Epidemiology & Biostatistics Doctoral Student)
Objectives Black and Latino children are diagnosed with autism at older ages compared to white children, even after accounting for differences in age of entry into systems of care (Mandell, Listerud, Levy & Pinto-Martin, 2002). One frequently suggested explanation for the differences in age at diagnosis by race/ethnicity is that Black and Latino parents are less aware of the symptoms of autism compared to White parents (Daniels & Mandell, 2013, Krader, 2014, Zuckerman, Sinche, Mejia, Cobian et al., 2014). However, scientific evidence that parents of color are indeed less aware of the signs and symptoms of autism than white parents is still lacking. The objective of the study is to determine if there are racial/ethnic differences in autism awareness among families with a child diagnosed with autism. Approach Recognition of the symptoms of autism relies on a basic understanding of typical child development. To evaluate potential racial/ethnic differences in autism awareness we will compare the age of the child at which the parent first became concerned about their child’s development between different racial/ethnic groups. Data on race/ethnicity and age of first parental concern will come from the 2011 Survey of Pathways to Diagnosis and Services (SPDS). Because the severity of symptoms is likely to be associated with the age of first concern, a measure of symptom severity (total score on the Strengths & Difficulties Questionnaire) will be included as a control variable. Findings TBD Conclusions TBD Public Health Significance Determining the racial/ethnic patterns of the age of first concern will ensure that resources are being appropriately allocated in efforts to close the gap in the age of autism diagnosis.