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Autism Campaign Targets Minority Parents


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Hispanic and African-American children are often diagnosed with autism at older ages. Now, a new advertising campaign aims to raise awareness in an attempt to reverse the trend.

A series of public service announcements launching this week are specifically targeted to Hispanic and African-American parents.

Dubbed “Maybe,” the ads encourage parents to talk to their pediatrician if they notice their child failing to make eye contact, babble or smile.

While autism is not considered to be more prevalent in any one ethnic or racial group as compared to another, research shows that white kids tend to be diagnosed earlier than others.

“We know we can diagnose children sooner, and the earlier the diagnosis occurs, the faster a child can start receiving intervention, resulting in better outcomes,” said Liz Feld, president of Autism Speaks in a statement. “Many parents still don’t know what red flags to look for in their children’s behavior and development. If a parent has a concern, they should not wait — they should talk to a pediatrician immediately.”

The PSAs were created by BBDO and LatinWorks for Autism Speaks and are available in English and Spanish. They are expected to appear nationwide on a pro bono basis through a partnership with the Ad Council.

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Comments (7 Responses)

  1. Debra says:

    There is a companion piece to this effort that should have been included. It’s important for medical professionals to listen to minority parents regarding any concerns. Oftentimes the concerns of people of color are put to the side. Research shows that most services are provided to Caucasian children at a much higher rate than minorities. I guess that’s an inconvenient truth.

  2. sonja says:

    Autism Speaks does it again with the sinister/creepy background music in these PSAs that will probably scare families more than provide useful information. Please stop “helping” the autism community – you earn big FAIL for these gems.

  3. dena gassner says:

    Kids w AS do not manifest these signs. I hope the actual ads are more inclusive. Otherwise thousands could vr missed.

  4. Jon K. Evans says:

    Hispanic and African-American children are often diagnosed with autism at older ages.

    SPEAK OF THE DEVIL! I wasn’t diagnosed with Autism until I was: 47 YEARS OF AGE!

  5. Evangelina says:

    I agree with Debra. Research Staten Island North Shore compared to services and information provided to parents on the North Shore. Speaking from experience Medical Professionals are clueless.

  6. Evangelina says:

    Correction to my previous post. I meant North Shore and South Shore in comparison to services and information.

  7. VMGillen says:

    @Evangelina- this is not so much ethnicity as it is economic status. On the North Shore, we are dealing with professionals who often don’t even speak English, and who may spend a total of 10 minutes evaluating the child. The general professional mindset (and this includes educators): populations from distressed socio-economic strata are more likely to be emotionally disturbed (by bad parenting and/or enviro stressors). This was borne out by Advocates for Children in several studies over the years.

    Let us not forget that ASD (or whatever you want to call it!) is NOT a diagnosis – it describes a set of symptoms with no etiology… and many of those symptoms could be caused by exposure to the toxic environmental contaminants on the North Shore. Lead, for example, manifests pretty much identically to ASD. You’re in the area, so you know about the recent Jewett White Lead superfund clean-up. EPA tested all the surrounding homes – and found elevated lead levels, but decided they were consistent with urban conditions in older cities…? say what? If you know Veteran’s Park, you may have noticed it’s been roped off for a while now – Parks Dep’t deemed it unusable due to lead contamination.

    As a parent advocate, I can attest that anecdotal evidence shows real and genuine problems on the North Shore, with services primarily delivered in segregated settings, and many mis-diagnoses of ED and ADHD. Parents on the South Shore have new schools with rich, inclusionary settings, serving children who are classified as “high functioning,” who are actually identical to the kids with ED/ADHD requiring segregated settings on the North shore.

    It’s all about the money.

    Enough money to pay for a valid Dx from a real professional, enough money to live in an area without heavy-duty contaminants, enough money that building decent schools becomes a priority for the powers that be, (BTW, political response re North Shore is that we’re mostly undocumented non-English speaking non-citizens, not worthy of attention.)

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