Let’s give all children with autism the support they need

A study published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders reports that children with autism who come from minority backgrounds are more delayed than their caucasian peers on the spectrum. Researchers at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore assessed 84 toddlers with autism from a variety of ethnic backgrounds and found significant differences between white children and their non-white peers that spanned from language to communication and gross motor skills. Researchers say one likely reason for this delay is that in minority communities, symptoms go unnoticed longer.

The fact is, we’re just not doing enough for our nation’s youngest and most vulnerable children. Far too many infants and toddlers are being left behind — every year, we as a nation fail to identify more than one million children, all under the age of five, who have a disability or are at risk for developmental delay, and many will never catch up. But we know young children with autism can succeed in school alongside their peers if they receive early intervention services — therapies that work to strengthen their physical, social, emotional and intellectual abilities at a very young age. That’s why we launched our Make the First Five Count awareness and advocacy campaign last year. Make the First Five Count is our effort to give children with or at risk of autism, developmental delays or disabilities the right support they need to be school-ready and build a foundation for a lifetime of learning.

We can give every child an equal opportunity to learn and grow, but we need to get kids the help they need in the critical years before they turn 5. If you believe all kids deserve a chance to learn, build lifelong skills, and live up to their full potential, your elected officials need to hear from you. Please visit the Make the First Five Count site and learn how you can add your voice to this important issue. You can also download our report on the availability of early intervention services in your state.


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  1. Beth Finke Says:

    Ah, Patricia, didn’t mean to scoop you. Sounds like I scooped NPR, too, so you are in good company. This morning (Tues., Feb. 28) I heard NPR report on this story as one of the top-of-the-hour teases on Morning Edition. I was gratified that NPR took notice, this sad statistic is one that everyone should know about.

  2. Patricia Wright Says:

    Beth! So excited that you wrote about this article. It was on my list to write something as well. Disparity in diagnosis is deplorable. The color of your skin, how much money your parents make or where you live should not determine who gets quality diagnostic services. Unfortunately all of these issues (ethnicity, poverty and geography) all effect age of diagnosis.

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