The rates of autism for students of all races is on the increase, but students who are black, Hispanic, or American Indian are less likely to be identified with the disability compared to white and Asian students, according to a study published this month inThe Journal of Special Education.
The study, "A Multiyear National Profile of Racial Disparity in Autism Identification," compiled information collected by the federal government from 1998 to 2006 on the race and disability category of students in special education. Using that information, the researchers were able to calculate a "risk index," or the percentage of all enrolled students from a racial group with a specific disability.
The overall risk of being categorized as having autism increased for all racial groups over that time period, from 0.09 percent to 0.37 percent. That increase reflects the increase in autism prevalence.
However, white students were twice as likely to be identified as having an autism spectrum disorder as students who were Hispanic or American Indian/Alaska Native. For Hispanic and American Indian students, the likelihood of autism diagnosis lagged behind the rate for students overall for every year researchers examined.