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Autism identification across ethnic groups: a narrative review

Samuel Tromans (Department of Intellectual Disability Psychiatry, Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust, Leicester, UK and Department of Health Sciences, University of Leicester, Leicester, UK)
Verity Chester (Department of Psychiatry, Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Trust, Norwich, UK)
Eli Gemegah (Centre for Educational Development, Appraisal and Research, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK)
Kristian Roberts (Department of General Adult Psychiatry, Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust, Leicester, UK)
Zoe Morgan (Department of Health Sciences, University of Leicester, Leicester, UK)
Guiqing Lily Yao (Department of Health Sciences, University of Leicester, Leicester, UK)
Traolach Brugha (Department of General Adult Psychiatry at Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust, Leicester, UK and Department of Health Sciences, University of Leicester, Leicester, UK)

Advances in Autism

ISSN: 2056-3868

Article publication date: 30 June 2020

Issue publication date: 11 August 2021

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of the paper is to review autism identification across different ethnic groups. Diagnosis of autism may be missed or delayed in certain ethnic groups, leading to such groups being underserved relative to their needs. This can result in members of such groups being effectively denied essential avenues of support that can substantially improve the quality of life of autistic persons as well as those whom care for them.

Design/methodology/approach

A literature search for articles reporting autism identification across ethnic groups was undertaken. Data are compared, with a special focus on possible explanations for any inter-group variation.

Findings

Autism identification appears to be generally lower in minority ethnic groups relative to the majority population. Individuals presenting with autism from minority groups appear to have more severe forms of the condition.

Originality/value

There are a multitude of potential explanations for inter-ethnicity variation in autism identification, including health care-related factors, broader environmental influences, cultural factors and possible biological differences. Implications for clinical practice and public health include a need to look at means of ensuring equitable access to relevant autism diagnostic and support services across ethnic groups. Further work is required to better understand the belief systems that operate within specific ethnic groups, how this may potentially impact upon autism identification and measures to address the concerns of such groups.

Keywords

Citation

Tromans, S., Chester, V., Gemegah, E., Roberts, K., Morgan, Z., Yao, G.L. and Brugha, T. (2021), "Autism identification across ethnic groups: a narrative review", Advances in Autism, Vol. 7 No. 3, pp. 241-255. https://doi.org/10.1108/AIA-03-2020-0017

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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