Fri, 17 Aug 2012 17:38:35 GMT | By Viviana Fernandez

Why are Latino children diagnosed late with disabilities?

Doctor speaking with child (© Terry Vine-Getty Images)

Very few official studies have been able to explain why Latino children with developmental disabilities like Autism Spectrum Disorder aren't diagnosed until later in life while Caucasian children typically receive an early diagnosis. But the little data that is out there brings hope to families of children with disabilities to help them achieve their maximum potential.

The Centers for Disease Control's 2012 study on children diagnosed within the Autism Spectrum Disorder shows that 40 percent of Latino children did not receive an official diagnosis until they were four-years-old. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that a diagnosis should be made when the child is between 18-months and two-years-old.

This same study also states that parents often noticed signs that "something was not quite right" their child earlier than the diagnosis.

A similar study conducted in the US amongst Latinos by the University of Puerto Rico found similar things. Percentages from this study show that Latina mothers took longer than their Caucasian counterparts to pursue a diagnosis. And that more than half of the mothers in the study also reported that their doctors told them their child would "grow out of the problem," that it was too early to diagnose a problem, or that the child's development appeared normal.

Ines and Tomás Delgado suspected something was not quite right when their son Frank, now five-years-old, turned three. Even though their son had begun to say words very early on, around his third birthday they saw that is vocabulary and verbal expressions were regressing.

"As time went by he was speaking less and less. We brought it up to his pediatrician, but she told us that we had to wait because many children who are raised in bilingual households sometimes go through something like that," says Ines Delgado.

Every time they visited their doctor's office, the Delgados said that a different doctor from the practice, often whoever was available, would see Frank and that may be part of the problem with early diagnosis.


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