Disparities in diagnosis and treatment of autism in latino and non-latino white families

Katharine E. Zuckerman, Olivia J. Lindly, Nuri M. Reyes, Alison E. Chavez, Kristy Macias, Kathryn N. Smith, Ann Reynolds

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

149 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVES: To compare barriers to autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnosis and current ASD-related service use among non-Latino white (NLW) families and Latino families with English proficiency (L-EP) or limited English proficiency (L-LEP). METHODS: We conducted a mixed-mode survey of families of children with confirmed ASD seen at specialty clinics in 3 United States cities. Bivariate and multivariate analyses compared barriers to ASD diagnosis, current service use, and unmet therapy need among NLW, L-EP, and L-LEP families. RESULTS: Overall, barriers to ASD diagnosis were prevalent: families (n = 352) experienced a mean of 8 of 15 barriers to ASD diagnosis. The most prevalent barriers overall were "stress of diagnostic process, " "parent knowledge about ASD, " and "understanding medical system." Compared with NLW families, L-LEP families were more likely to experience barriers related to knowledge about ASD and trust in providers. Children in L-LEP families also had fewer current therapy hours and more unmet therapy needs than children in NLW families. L-EP families' barriers and treatment services use profile was more similar to NLW than to L-LEP families. CONCLUSIONS: English proficiency was an important marker for barriers to ASD diagnosis and treatment in Latinos. Increasing ASD-related knowledge and provider trust may decrease disparities in the diagnosis and treatment of ASD among US Latinos.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere20163010
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2017
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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