Brain development/Law/Policy School of Medicine

Addressing racial disparity in autism outcomes, Washington University seeks to improve diagnosis and intervention for black children

Though autism can often be diagnosed by the age of 2, most children, irrespective of race, do not receive a diagnosis until the age of 4. For African-American children in greater St. Louis, the average age of diagnosis is older than 6.

From the St. Louis American

The Center for Disease Control’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network most recently reported that 1 in 59 children, or about 1.7 percent, have an autism spectrum disorder.

Historically, African-American children have being identified with autism spectrum disorder at a significantly lower rate than Caucasian children, but this gap has narrowed: across all network monitoring sites, autism remains about 7 percent more likely to be identified in Caucasian children than African-American children, and there is no evidence that this disorder is more common in any one race than another.

A serious residual disparity revealed by the CDC’s most recent network report is that African-American children who were identified with an autism spectrum disorder were twice as likely as Caucasian children to be co-diagnosed with an intellectual disability (44 percent compared to 22 percent). In other words, when an African-American child has this common condition, he/she is much more likely to suffer also from intellectual disability.

Researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine have recently been awarded funding by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) to address this disparity, which may be caused by delays in the timing of diagnosis and access to high-quality intervention.

Read more at the St. Louis American.