INTERSECTION OF AUTISM WITH RACE AND ETHNICITY
Autism occurs across all demographics. Many studies show there is a greater prevalence of autism in white males, but this research is skewed. Autism is often misdiagnosed or missed all together in communities of color, as a result of the way racism and bias show up in access to healthcare, diagnostic measures, and autism resources. Native American and Hispanic/Latino individuals are diagnosed at less than half the rate of white people. African-American children on the autism spectrum are 5.1 times more likely to be misdiagnosed with behavior disorders.
BIPOC individuals tend to be diagnosed with ASD at later ages, which furthers the gap in access to early intervention services that benefit them across the lifespan. "The most commonly reported finding related to service access and use, indicated that racial and ethnic minorities have less access to and lower use of relevant health care and treatment services, as compared with their white, higher-resourced counterparts”.
Additionally, while white Autistic individuals are disproportionately higher-resourced, they are also disproportionately funded by state programs. One study by Rutgers showed state spending in New Jersey on white Autistic children was 20% higher than spending on Black and Hispanic Autistic children. Another study in California showed that average per-person spending was close to $2000 lower for Black and Hispanic children.
The racial wealth gap further contributes to opportunity inequities for independent living and employment. A study from the Drexel Autism Institute showed racial disparities in the percentage of individuals on the spectrum who had, at some point in time, lived independently. For white individuals with ASD, it was 27%, and for Black or Hispanic individuals with ASD, it was almost 0%. In terms of employment, white individuals and individuals of higher socioeconomic status, were twice as likely to be employed.