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Autism Awareness Is pivotal to Black and Latinx youths’ success, but most go undiagnosed

According to statistics released in December 2021 from the CDC’s Autism & Development Disabilities Monitoring (ADMM) Network, about 1 in 44 eight-year-olds in 11 targeted states has been identified with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). That is twice the ratio cited just ten years earlier. In Chicago, which has apopulation of nearly 563,000 children, that would amount to 12,794 with ASD.

The same report notes that ASD is more than four times more common among boys than among girls. And itoccurs in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups. But therapists are distressed by research showing that every child on the autism spectrum has not been identified—and most of them are African American and Latinx children.

An upward trend is revealed in other research findings. In 2000, 4,330 or 1.46% of children ages 3-21 who received special education services in Illinois reportedly were autistic. By 2015, 21,837 or 7.02% of children who received special education services in Illinois were on the autism spectrum.

Awareness is a game-changer

If parents are not aware that the behaviors their child is exhibiting could be ASD, they will not seek therapy.And the longer a child is without therapy, the more difficult it will be for them to master the skills and behaviors required to succeed in school and in life.

“The sooner we can begin developing these skills the better for the learner and their family, as both the child and their family miss out on all those interactions,” explained Danielle Gender- Walters, Ph.D., Director ofBehavioral Health at nonprofit Envision Unlimited. “ABA focuses on foundational skills so that a learner has the skill set to be more successful in the academic setting. If a learner acquires these skills later, there would be a lot of catching up to do. It can profoundly impact their immediate and long-term outcomes.”

Minority children are less likely to receive ASD treatment

Research also shows that minority children facing autism spectrum disorder are less likely to be diagnosed or be at risk of misdiagnosis compared to their general market counterparts, representing a community health disparity and need to be addressed.

“There are a lot of reasons for this, including socioeconomic barriers,” said Envision Clinical Manager NikkiGriffin. “Often, families of color face lack of access to healthcare and prohibitive healthcare costs. Additionally, seeing specialists can mean long wait times, particularly in underserved areas. This impacts the outcomes forchildren of color. Early intervention provides the most effective results, and many of these children are missing that window.”

Concerned about these outcomes, Envision Unlimited has expanded its program to meet minority families where they are—in their homes. Parents with children who have been diagnosed with autism can schedule anappointment by phoning the ABA Therapy Department at (872) 895-7942 or (872) 270-2349.

Autism Awareness Is Pivotal to Black and Latinx Youths’ Success, But Most Go Undiagnosed.

For more information, please view and/or download our Autism Awareness electronic press kit.

About Envision Unlimited

Envision Unlimited ( is a Chicago-based nonprofit organization founded in 1948 by parents of children with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). Today, it is Illinois’ largestaccredited nonprofit serving residents in 19 counties of all ages with I/DD, mental illness, and autism. Envision’s 18 community hubs provide a variety of services, including mental health, community living, specialized foster care, applied behavior analysis therapy for children with autism, and employment services. The organization also manages dozens of group homes for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. More than 96% of Envision members have incomes at or below the poverty line. More than 72% are Black/African Americans; nearly 9%, Hispanic/Latinx.

Electronic press kit available here.

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