Objectives: This study examined whether the age of screening, follow-up and diagnosis, as well as prevalence of ASD, vary by ethnicity or SES.
Methods: Children were diagnosed after screening positive on the Modified Checklist for Autistic Toddlers (M-CHAT), a developmental screener designed to identify children at risk for ASD between the age of 16 and 30 months, and screening positive on a follow-up phone interview. Age at screening, follow-up and diagnosis were compared for 33 non-Caucasian children and 125 Caucasian children diagnosed with an ASD. These variables were also compared between high and low SES, as defined by family's yearly household income and parental education level. Prevalence rates of ASD were compared between Caucasian and non-Caucasian children and SES of the families.
Results: An Independent Samples T-Test revealed a significant difference between Caucasian and non-Caucasian children in their age at screening (MeanCauc=714 days, MeannonCauc=763 days, t(156)=1.976, p<.05), age at follow-up (MeanCauc=750 days, MeannonCauc=812 days, t(156)=2.465, p<.05) and age at diagnosis (MeanCauc=800 days, MeannonCauc=895 days , t(156)=3.477, p<.01). No significant differences were found in age at screening, follow-up or diagnosis based on the family's yearly household income or parental education level. No significant differences were found in prevalence rates of ASD based on ethnicity or SES.
Conclusions: Disparities exist between Caucasian and non-Caucasian children in the child's age when screened for ASD, at follow-up and at diagnosis. These differences are not influenced by the SES of the families, but may be the result of cultural dissimilarities in their outlooks on symptoms of first concern or attitudes toward help-seeking.