Stories about: social justice

Study reveals the social justice problem of autism—and poses new questions for researchers

Some children with autism are "bloomers" and are able to move to the high-functioning category. They're also more likely to have mothers who are white and educated.

A child with autism is more likely to do well if his mother is white and educated.

This is the message of a study just released in the journal Pediatrics, and it’s something we need to pay attention to—now.

Researchers from Columbia University wanted to find out what happens to children with autism over time. So they looked at the records of more than 6,000 children with autism who were enrolled in California’s Department of Developmental Services  (DDS). To get into DDS they had to be referred, and their diagnosis had to be confirmed by someone with expertise in autism.

What they found was that when it came to social and communication skills, for the most part the kids fell into groups ranging from low-functioning to high-functioning. The kids did make progress; the most rapid gains were before age six, and the high-functioning kids tended to make more progress than the low-functioning ones. Even as they made progress, they tended to stay in the group they started in—with one notable exception. That exception was a group the researchers called the “Bloomers.”

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