Academic journal article Best Practices in Mental Health

Sociocultural Perspectives of Latino Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Academic journal article Best Practices in Mental Health

Sociocultural Perspectives of Latino Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Article excerpt

The Centers for Disease Control (2014) estimates that 1 in every 68 children is affected by autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Although a plethora of information is available about the possible causes, developmental trajectories of affected children, and diagnosis and treatment services, there remains a significant delay in diagnosis and treatment services for racial/ethnic minority children. The literature shows discrepant findings on prevalence, service access, and service use across race, maternal education level (Mandell et al., 2009), income (Porterfield & McBride, 2007), amount of health insurance coverage (Kilbourne, Switzer, Hyman, Crowley-Matoka, & Fine, 2006), and residence location (Mandell et al., 2009) among racial/ethnic minority children with ASD. Moreover, children with racial/ethnic minority backgrounds who receive a diagnosis of ASD often receive lower quality services than white children (Levy, Mandell, Merhar, Ittenbach, & Pinto-Martin, 2003; Mandell, Ittenbach, Levy, & Pinto-Martin, 2007).

More research is necessary to explain the processes underlying outcomes among underrepresented children with ASD and strategies to improve diagnosis and treatment of ASD among these populations (Interagency ASD Coordinating Committee, 2011). One minority group that has been overlooked in ASD research and underserved in practice is the Latino population. This population is growing, diverse, and underrepresented in research pertaining to physical and mental health (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2001). Although gaps in health care have been closing between non-Latino whites and other racial/ethnic groups, health care disparities persist among Latinos (Stone & Balderrama, 2008).

The purpose of this article is to investigate the impact of social determinants on disparities in ASD diagnosis and treatment with a focus on Latino children. This article provides a review of the literature pertaining to children's health disparities, Latino children and families, and ASD, as well as a summary model, grounded in the Socio-cultural Framework for Health Service Disparities (SCF-HSD; Alegría, Pescosolido, Williams, & Canino, 2011), aimed at developing interventions for Latino children with ASD.

Socio-cultural Framework for Health Service Disparities

In the SCF-HSD Alegria et al. (2011) define health disparities as "racial and ethnic differences in access, health care quality or health care outcomes that are not due to clinical needs or the appropriateness of treatment" (p. 364). Disparities are exacerbated by barriers to access of health care systems in addition to the reduced quality of services and lack of culturally sensitive treatment and service providers. According to the SCF-HSD, the quality and content of services and provider interactions affect patient choice to use a given service. Community perceptions of the health care system also affect service utilization (Olafsdottir & Pescosolido, 2009). Alegría and colleagues assert that culture affects health and health care among racial/ethnic groups. Specifically, cultural characteristics, traditions, values, and beliefs, as well as societal perceptions of cultural groups, affect access to, quality, and outcomes of health care among racial and ethnic groups. They propose that racial/ethnic groups have community and treatment system experiences and routines at each stage of managing health and illness problems that fuel health disparities.

In the SCF-HSD varying levels of disadvantage and advantage, social structures, and culture effect inequalities in health over the illness career. According to this model, intervention is possible at interaction points including the interaction between community and treatment. Interaction points can be analyzed at three levels: the micro level (individual; provider or patient), the meso level (organiza- tional; formal organizations or lay sectors), and the macro level (societal; larger policy or environmental contexts). …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.