World Autism Awareness Day: Are Latinos Disproportionately Affected?

The United Nations has claimed April 2nd Autism Awareness Day to help spread knowledge on the disability, which affects millions of families worldwide. Autism is defined by developmental delays in speech, spastic movements, repetitive behaviors and impaired socialization. Several studies suggest that Latino children are disproportionately affected by autism.

An estimate by the CDC suggests that 1 in 88 children in the U.S. are affected by autism, but those numbers are even higher among Latino children. They suggest that the largest increase in autism cases over time has been among Latino children, with a 110 percent increase.

The increase hasn't been identified yet, but some medical experts believe it has something to do with the criteria used to diagnose autism among children. According to Yale University's, James McPartland, "What we don't know if we should be alarmed by yet is if this is a truly a change in the number of children who have autism, or if it's a matter of we're recognizing it better.”

In 2012, the UC Davis MIND Institute conducted the largest autism study to date comparing the development of Latino and non-Latino children and discovered that a higher rate of Hispanic children possess undiagnosed developmental delays, including autism. In the study, which included 1,061 children living in California who were between the ages of 2 and 5, they found that 6.3% of Hispanic children had autism - compared to 2.4% of non-Hispanic kids.

For more information on treatment and more, visit Autism Speaks. Are you or someone you know affected by autism? Share your story with us.