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Latino children experience delays, stigmatization in getting treatment for ASD

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A study of Latino children with an autism spectrum disorder has found that their their families received "low levels" of information about ASD, and had "high levels" of stigma about ASD and other types of mental health and disability in their community.

Through focus groups and interviews with 33 parents of Latino children previously diagnosed with an ASD, researchers at the Oregon Health & Science University in Portland asked about the Latino community's perceptions of autism and barriers to care they experienced when their child was being diagnosed.

The parents reported they received "low levels of ASD information and high levels of mental health and disability stigma in the Latino community," the researchers report. "Parents had poor access to care as a result of poverty, limited English proficiency, and lack of empowerment to take advantage of services."

Additionally, providers did not always take parents' concerns seriously. "The ASD diagnostic process itself was slow, inconvenient, confusing, and uncomfortable for the child," the investigators add.

"These factors led many parents to ... deny that a problem existed and lose trust in the medical system," the authors write.

They advocate for additional educational outreach to Latino families as well as "destigmatization" of ASD and improving the diagnostic process of ASD. The researchers also recommend extra support to the parents of children considered at risk of ASD such as lowering wait times for diagnosing the disorder in their children.

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