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Community Report on Autism 2018

Spotlight On: Racial and Ethnic Differences in Children Identified with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

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1.1x more likely among white vs black children, 1.2x more likely among white vs. Hispanic children, 1.1x more likely among black vs. Hispanic children

ADDM reports have consistently noted that more white children are identified with ASD than black or Hispanic children. Previous studies have shown that stigma, lack of access to healthcare services due to non-citizenship or low-income, and non-English primary language are potential barriers to identification of children with ASD especially among Hispanic children. A difference in identifying black and Hispanic children with ASD relative to white children means these children may not be getting the services they need to reach their full potential.

This ADDM report found that the racial and ethnic differences in identifying 8-year-old children with ASD persist, but also some indications that the differences may be narrowing.

Throughout the ADDM Network

Black and Hispanic children continued to be less likely to be identified with ASD than white children. These differences suggest that black and Hispanic children may face socioeconomic or other barriers that lead to a lack of or delayed access to evaluation, diagnosis, and services.

1.1x more likely among white vs black children, 1.2x more likely among white vs. Hispanic children, 1.1x more likely among black vs. Hispanic children

Prevalence Ratio

The prevalence ratio measures the difference in the likelihood of a condition between two groups. A prevalence ratio of 1.0 means there is no difference between the two groups. A prevalence ratio over 1.0 shows a difference between the two groups. Larger prevalence ratios show greater differences between groups. Prevalence ratios were lower in the most recent ADDM report than in previous reports, which shows reduced racial and ethnic differences in identifying children with ASD.

White to Black

Bar chart showing prevalence ratio for surveillance years: 2002 = 1.3, 2006 = 1.4, 2008 = 1.2, 2010 = 1.3, 2012 = 1.2, 2014 = 1.1

White to Hispanic

Bar chart showing prevalence ratio for surveillance years: 2002 = 1.6, 2006 = 1.7, 2008 = 1.5,  2010 = 1.5, 2012 = 1.5, 2014 = 1.2

Changing Differences in Identification

While a higher percentage of white children were identified with ASD compared to black children and even more so compared to Hispanic children, these differences were smaller when compared with estimates from previous years. These reduced differences may be due to more effective outreach directed toward minority communities and efforts to have all children screened for ASD.

White to Black

Bar Chart showing changes in identification. 1.2x MORE LIKELY among white vs black children in 2012 vs 1.1x MORE LIKELY among white vs black children in 2014

White to Hispanic

Bar Chart showing changes in identification. 1.5x MORE LIKELY among white vs Hispanic children in 2012 vs 1.2x MORE LIKELY among white vs Hispanic children in 2014

Looking Ahead

The reduced differences in ASD prevalence for black and Hispanic children relative to white children may be due to more effective outreach directed toward minority communities and efforts to have all children screened for ASD. The ADDM Network will continue to monitor ASD prevalence to find out if the narrowing of racial and ethnic differences in children identified with ASD continues. This helps both states and communities develop and evaluate targeted strategies to increase awareness and improve identification of ASD in black and Hispanic communities.

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