Improvements in Autism Screening Lead to More Diagnoses for Latino Children

two children drawing together

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have recently announced a significant shift in autism diagnoses in the US. Black and Latino children are now being diagnosed more frequently than their white peers, marking a change from previous years where autism was primarily diagnosed in white children. This increase seems to be the result of improved screening and autism services for all children, along with increased awareness and advocacy for POC families.

For the past several years, there has been a gap in autism diagnoses largely attributed to several cultural and socioeconomic factors.

One of these factors is the lack of access to equitable and quality healthcare for Latino communities, which often leads to late diagnoses. Latino children are typically tested for autism much later in life than what is recommended, leaving many to mask their behavior as young teens or adults.

Latino parents often face obstacles in receiving adequate education from healthcare providers regarding autism due to language barriers. This lack of information often results in behaviors associated with autism being misinterpreted as behavioral issues, rather than as symptoms of a manageable disorder that can be diagnosed and understood with proper medical attention.

In addition, cultural stigmas surrounding mental health may further discourage families from seeking necessary help for their children.

To address these disparities, it’s important to engage in open conversations with families and to normalize discussions surrounding autism. Promoting knowledge about autism in children and educating parents on the warning signs are both essential steps toward reducing inequities in healthcare. Providing information about autism in Spanish is also necessary to reach underserved communities that are not fluent in English.

Although the recent rise in autism diagnoses among children of color indicates progress, we must remain vigilant in our efforts to ensure that every child has equal access to support and services. Insisting on improved screening and support services and dismantling the barriers that hinder Latino families from accessing vital aid for their children will guarantee that families of color obtain the vital assistance they need.

a four image collage featuring queer actresses MJ Rodriguez, Aubrey Plaza, Tessa Thompson and Sara Ramirez

Amid the ongoing push towards equality and visibility for the LGBTQ+ community, the influence of public figures who identify as part of this community is undeniably crucial. They contribute to this narrative significantly, their impact transcending their professional boundaries to create safe spaces and ignite discussions that shatter stereotypes and nurture inclusivity. Today, we shine a spotlight on four prominent Latina trailblazers who are making their mark:

Tessa Thompson

Tessa Thompson, an Afro-Panamanian actress, has earned widespread recognition for her performances in films like "Creed" and "Thor: Ragnarok". Thompson is open about her bisexuality and uses her platform to advocate for LGBTQ+ representation in the entertainment industry. Her role in "Thor: Ragnarok" is considered a landmark as Valkyrie is one of the first explicitly queer characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While the explicitness of Valkyrie's bisexuality was contested in the cinematic release, Thompson has confirmed and embraced this aspect of the character. Thompson continues to champion diversity in media, raising the bar for representation in Hollywood.

Aubrey Plaza

Aubrey Plaza, of Puerto Rican and Irish descent, is widely known for her role as April Ludgate on "Parks and Recreation". Plaza publicly came out as bisexual in 2016, and she has since been an outspoken advocate for the LGBTQ+ community. By openly discussing her bisexuality, she has helped increase visibility and eliminate the stigma associated with non-heterosexual orientations. Additionally, her portrayal of queer characters, like in the film "Happiest Season", provides much-needed representation and adds to the authenticity of LGBTQ+ characters in media.

Sara Ramirez

Sara Ramirez, a Mexican-American actress, singer, and activist, is best known for her role as Dr. Callie Torres on "Grey's Anatomy". Ramirez, who identifies as non-binary and bisexual, has been a tireless advocate for LGBTQ+ rights. Their portrayal of Dr. Torres, one of the longest-running queer characters on television, has significantly influenced the way bisexuality is understood and depicted in popular media. Off-screen, Ramirez is heavily involved in LGBTQ+ advocacy, serving on the board of organizations like True Colors United, which works to combat homelessness among LGBTQ+ youth.

MJ Rodriguez

MJ Rodriguez, of Afro-Puerto Rican descent, has made history as a trailblazer for transgender individuals, particularly in the world of television. Rodriguez's groundbreaking role as Blanca Evangelista on "Pose" earned her critical acclaim and marked a significant milestone for trans representation on screen. Rodriguez is open about her identity as a trans woman, leveraging her platform to call attention to issues affecting the transgender community. Her achievements, both as an actress and activist, provide a beacon of hope and inspiration for transgender individuals worldwide.

Through their activism and their work in the media, these prominent figures are not only changing the conversation around LGBTQ+ rights and representation but also shaping a more inclusive and accepting future. In honoring their contributions, we also acknowledge the progress still needed and the ongoing efforts of countless others in the fight for equality and acceptance.