There seems to be more and more cases of autism in children, especially when it comes to Black kids.
The Associated Press reports that for the first time autism is being recognized more frequently in Black children than white kids in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, particularly in children around eight years old, one in 36 had autism in 2020, which is more than what it was two years earlier, with the numbers being one in 44.
Some of the numbers can be blamed on the pandemic. As Today reports, the earlier stages of COVID pushed back early autism detection. Normally, the CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network finds data amongst 4-year-old children.
In a press release, the CDC, said the numbers add up: “This coincides with the interruptions in child care and health care services during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
New estimates show almost 3% of Black, Hispanic, and Asian or Pacific Islander children have received autism diagnoses. That’s not too much bigger than the 2% of white kids diagnosed. But why is that? Past reports claim autism was more commonly diagnosed in white kids, particularly coming from middle- or upper-class families, meaning they have the means to afford specialists.
Experts, like psychiatry professor David Mandell, feel the increased numbers are due to more Black and Hispanic families being aware of this condition. “The increase is from this rush to catch up,” Mandell said.
While these same families are talking more about autism, that doesn’t mean they’re receiving the help needed.
Autism is a developmental disability caused by differences in the brain. Noticeable symptoms include speech and learning delay, social and emotional withdrawal, and an unusual sense of routine. Researchers also believe genetics play a role. Nothing explains why its more common in some ethnic group than others.
Experts encourage parents to learn about the CDC’s “Learn the signs, act early” program, an app that assists parents in recognizing the signs of autism. It also tracks development milestones as early as 2 months old.