Autism and the African American community

Soc Work Public Health. 2011;26(4):454-70. doi: 10.1080/19371918.2011.579499.


It is estimated that autism spectrum disorders (ASD) affect 1 in 500 live births per year. However, due to varying techniques for diagnosis and treatment, the disability remains the subject of debate. African Americans tend to suffer disproportionate rates of disability and disease when compared to other racial and ethnic groups due to access to preventative and curative care. However, evidence demonstrates that although rates of diagnosis for autism occur at the same rates in all racial groups, diagnosis in African American children occurs later than in White children. As a result, African American children may require longer and more intensive intervention. This article examines the etiology of autism, diagnosis, and treatment strategies and its impact on African American families. A case method approach is utilized to describe the impact of autism on an African American family. Implications for future research and professional practice and policy are discussed. Understanding autism is important as it relates to the human genome.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • African Americans / statistics & numerical data*
  • Asperger Syndrome / diagnosis
  • Asperger Syndrome / epidemiology*
  • Asperger Syndrome / genetics
  • Autistic Disorder / diagnosis
  • Autistic Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Autistic Disorder / genetics
  • Caregivers
  • Genome, Human
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Health Status Disparities
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • United States / epidemiology