A new study highlighted by the American Academy of Pediatrics found racial inequities in the timely diagnosis of autism in children. The sooner the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder, the sooner treatment can start, and the better the outcome, pediatricians say.
The study, “Timing of the Diagnosis of Autism in African Americans,” found that among a large cohort of African American children enrolled in a National Institute of Health Autism Center of Excellence gene discovery program there was on average a three-year delay between the time parents first expressed concern about a child’s development and the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder. Nearly half of parents reported seeing multiple providers before receiving a diagnosis, and 31.3 percent said that lack of available professionals contributed to this delay.
The findings, in the September 2020 issue of Pediatrics (the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics) suggests broad implementation of timely diagnostic and high-quality early intervention programs would reduce the disproportionate number of Black children with autism whose conditions are complicated by intellectual disability.