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Autism Not Diagnosed As Early In Minority Children

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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – One in 110.  That is the estimated number of children who have Autism in the United States.

A new report is raising concerns about the time it takes to diagnose the development disorder in minority children, sometimes up to one and a half years longer.

Chiniqua Newsome a mother in Dallas can relate to that concern.  She is raising a son diagnosed with Autism.

Jalen has a severe case of the developmental disorder. He’s 15 years old now, but Newsome knew early on something was wrong.

“At the age of two I noticed Jalen stopped talking,” said Newsome. “He went from two to three to four words, to no words at all.”

After noticing the sharp change, Newsome immediately scheduled appointments with doctors and specialists. But it took 3 years for Jalen to be properly diagnosed. “I went back to the doctor and he said ‘just and see what happens.'”

Some medical screenings can detect Autism as early as 14 months — and experts say 2 years of age is becoming more of the expected standard for early detection.

Jalen was 5 when diagnosed. “If he had been diagnosed earlier, he would probably be a little bit better.” expressed Newsome.

“It’s very frustrating because you were taught to go to the doctor for everything,” Newsome continued. “You give them the signs and symptoms and you assume they are going to help you.”

According to a new report, Newsome’s situation may not be uncommon.  A study in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders found minority children tend to be diagnosed later than white children-even when socio-economics were the same.

Susan Hoff with United Way of Dallas says the the report’s findings are not surprising but alarming.  “That’s concerning,” said Hoff. “It could be that culturally their families knew less about the signs of Autism.”

Researchers are still working to uncover other reasons why there is such a gap in diagnosing whites and non-whites.

Hoff says regardless of ethnicity, parents need to be aware of Autism screenings and ask for them early on.  “If the physician is not giving the answers they need or they feel is not attentive enough ask again or try a different healthcare provider.”

As for Newsome, she was able to find help and hope at the Autism Treatment Center in Dallas for her son Jalen. He enrolled in the program last month after the Dallas Independent School District referred the agency.  “It takes persistence and if you have to take your child to different places, do it,” encouraged Newsome.  “Don’t give up.”

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