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Autism, minority children less likely to receive proper care

According to a recent study published Monday in the Journal of Pediatrics, African-American and Hispanic children are far less likely to be seen by specialists for autism and other health conditions than their white peers. The records of 3,615 children with autism at the Massachusetts General were evaluated by Dr. Sarahbeth Broder-Fingert and her colleagues, and they discovered that children from African-American and Hispanic families were far less likely to receive specialized care for conditions such as autism.

What does this mean for minority children with autism?

Because a child with autism has the best chance to develop properly and encounter the least amount of difficulties if they receive not only an early diagnosis but also intervention with behavioral therapies this discovery is especially troubling.

Autism, which affects approximately 1 in 88 children in the United States, is a developmental condition which is characterized by trouble communicating and interacting socially with peers. It is also common for autistic children to experience other conditions such as ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) and seizures. Many children also experience other physical conditions such as abdominal pain, constipation and acid reflux.

Why do minority children with Autism receive less care?

It’s easy to jump to the conclusion that racism may exist within the health care industry, but there are far less sinister reasons for a lack of medical treatment. The most common reason minorities may receive inadequate care is they simply lack a regular health care provider or face greater financial barriers to see a specialist.

It’s no secret that the cost of health services in the United States have skyrocketed over the last fifteen years, making it difficult for families with and without good health insurance to get the help they need.

Are the symptoms the same for all autistic children?

Experts also have asked the question: Do all children in all ethnic groups experience the same symptoms if they are autistic? For instance, “one study has shown that children from minority groups may have more co-occurring symptoms of aggression.” This may be one contributing factor to the delay diagnosis of some minority groups.

African-American children especially have a delayed diagnosis. In fact, the average delay in autism diagnosis for African Americans is 18 months compared to their white peers. It is especially common for mild cases of autism in African American children to go undetected.

Where do you turn for help?

If you believe you have a child who may suffer with autism and they are school age you may be able to get support from the school. Talk to your child’s teacher and find out what resources are available for your child. Early diagnosis is key.

Will my autistic child qualify for SSI benefits?

Some children with severe autism will qualify for SSI benefits.  SSI or Supplemental Security Income is offered to disabled children whose families have very limited income and resources. If you have questions about SSI or need more information visit our website at
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