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Race, Ethnicity May Influence Odds Of Regressive Autism


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Children with autism from certain backgrounds are more likely to develop typically before suddenly losing critical skills like speech and the ability to make eye contact, researchers say.

The phenomenon known as developmental regression is twice as common in black children and occurs 50 percent more often in Hispanics as compared to white kids, according to findings scheduled to be presented Tuesday at the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia.

For the study, researchers looked at data on 1,353 kids ages 3 to 6 with autism who participated in the Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network — a group of 17 coordinated-care centers across the United States and Canada — between March 2008 and December 2011.

Overall, parents of 27 percent of children reported that their kids had regressed, but stark differences along racial and ethnic lines persisted in the data even when researchers controlled for insurance status and the education level of the child’s caretaker, the study found.

“Lost skills are very difficult to recover,” said the study’s lead author, Adiaha Spinks-Franklin of the Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston. “Evidence suggests that African-American and Hispanic children are often diagnosed with autism at later ages than white children and have less access to services. Our research shows there is one more important factor that contributes to the developmental outcomes of African-American and Hispanic children with autism.”

Researchers said it is particularly important for health care providers to be aware that children in certain demographic groups may be at increased risk of regressing in order to ensure that affected kids receive early intervention as soon as possible. What’s more, they said parents should have their children evaluated by a physician immediately if they are concerned about any loss of skills.

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Comments (12 Responses)

  1. VMGillen says:

    Didn’t they once attribute this regression to Landau-Kleffner Syndrome? and wasn’t that mostly prevalent among European whites?

  2. Kathleen says:

    We are caucasian my son was typically developing met and exceeded all milestones developed fever immed following his late mmr and lost all sppech and latrr lost eyecontact…its not race realted its toxin related.

  3. Frank says:

    I thought that was part of the cluster of symptoms in making the diagnosis of autism. The child is developing normally and around the age of 2 or 3 development stops and the child loses what the have learned ie: speech, and other symptoms develop.

    The professionals are mudding the water

  4. Jill Segarra says:

    Isn’t it because they are low income families that are not able to give their children all the therapies needed to get Speech and I contact back? And lack of education on there part. We were able to do early intervention because we knew about it and pay for a lot of extra therapies in order to get my son back to speaking again and getting I contact and now he looks like a typical boy after not having any language Or speech or eye contact for many many years. Parents of low income or not educated as much as to what’s available for them etc.

  5. Margaret Duggan says:

    My child is caucasion and was perfectly normal . He regressed between 2 and 3 yrs. of age. The wonderful doctor kept telling me boys were slow. This happened AFTER THE SHOTS. ABSOLUTELY TOXIN RELATED. (mercury) My beautiful normal boy . tThe doctors were responsible for ruining his life and mine. NOTHING could convince me otherwise.

  6. Yoland Roy says:

    Being a researcher in psychology at University of St. Thomas, I would like to know what was the effect size of these results. Autism is a neurological disorder with regression being related to various factors, none of which have been identified with race or ethinicity. Was this finding substantial enough to report?

  7. aspiemom says:

    This just muddies the waters. They’ve conflated “regressive autism” (which has a separate etiology) and “regression / failure to develop” of autistic kids not dx’d & treated at an early age. No telling if that’s the reporting or the study.

  8. Mia says:

    My daughter was never diagnosed as being Autistic, she had a whole other diagnosis, but later in life many doctors said she falls under Autism but her main diagnosis was CDLS. My daughter was able to say words at a young age, but somewhere around age 3, she just stopped speaking and lost eye contact. She has gained eye contact back again now over the past few years. She is 27 now, but they say she is blind but you cannot tell. They say she is deaf, but you cannot tell, they said she would not live pass age 7 but she is 27. My point is, the doctors never really know, but I do agree that the mercury levels in shots are truly setting our children back in more ways than 1 and we should not only be aware but be involved in putting out as much information as possible for the next generations to come. Knowledge is power and each one needs to reach and teach one.

  9. Becca says:

    Once again Autism Speaks has put out more research without detailed and proper scientific stats that further marginalizes those in the AS community. The wonderful thing about autism is the fact that it affects all types of human beings without discrimination–it could bring all people together as we see that we are all more alike than different (I have a Dream!). I find the further oppression of the already most marginalized races by adding on another label (“worst autistics ever!”) to be reprehensible. First, we must understand what exactly ASD is before we even start talking about cures. Endless cure studies confuses and frightens parents that are already stressed because they have been told ASD is a terrible tragedy. I have ASD and so do my kids. If it were not for my ASD I would not be me and I like being me and I add value to society. Also, even if your child is considered “low functioning” please remember that this label is a social construct based on what symptoms NTs find more annoying. What if we would have conditioned (via ASD) all the light out of Einstein’s little heart–and he would be considered low functioning since he had no speech for first three years of life.–Don’t stress parents–It WILL be okay!

  10. Susan Trumblay says:

    Thank You! My child evidenced sign of autism at age 3-5. When I asked about Autism, the Drs. pooh-poohed me, saying it could not be Autism. She appeared to be developing normally, but there was just “something” not quite right. Then at about age 10 she began to regress. I was given all sorts of excuses, but never a valid REASON. Now at age 12 1/2, she cannot do simple division anymore, and her multiplication skills have all but disappeared, and the same with all her other subjects. I am really concerned
    I home school, because 1) she had been reading on her own since age 3, and doing math since age 4, at age 5, she could figure Square Root and they wanted her to start school in Kindergarten, because “State Law” requires at least 180 days of Kindergarten before entering 1st grade. NO EXCEPTIONS and 2) The school in our small country town is rated “Unacceptable”, and kids that DO attend are not what I want my child to have for daily friends.
    , When she began to regress, the doctors put it off as puberty, ADHD, my imagination, etc. However, now we are having to STOP everything, and go back and start all over at the point to where she has regressed.
    I have recently found a psychologist who tested her for 4 hours, and he told me that he KNEW she was autistic when she first entered his office, lack of eye contact. And I never said WHY I wanted her tested, just that I knew something was not right. We go back in 2 wks. for a complete diagnosis. I am certain she is Aspbergers, I will bet money on it! I have researched it a LOT.
    Does egression appear with Aspberger’s?

  11. Susan Trumblay says:

    Re: Jill Segarra’s comment
    Since we have no way of knowing whether the parents have “low income” or “low education”, you can not say that is what is wrong with their kids. It is not the AMOUNT of money (or education-formal or informal) to which one has access, but rather how they use it, as well as experience, and intellect, that matter. In fact, one person commenting used “I” more than once when they should have used “eye”, and the word “or” instead of “are” – does that mean they are of “Low income” or “low educationWe dare not judge, just observe and learn.
    Only highly trained persons (in this area) are able to suggest causes, and even then we still have a long way to go in learning about Autism. We need to keep an open mind when trying to figure out the cause(s).

  12. kim says:

    My 4 year old son has always had Autism, yet I didn’t know the signs. He has never lost any skills. Both of his parents went to college and had reasonable paying desk jobs. We do have insurance limitations and Early Childhood Intervention services were a joke. So I would not consider low income or formal education as attributes, but rather poor public awarness and mefiocre public services as the problem. And that’s how the insurane companies want it.

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