Autism study finds additional disorder in one ethnic group

Readers of this disability benefits blog know that federal assistance programs are available for both children and adults. Certain disabilities may be developmental or genetic, and prevent an individual from ever acquiring an adequate work history -- which is needed to qualify for Social Security disability insurance. For such individuals, programs like Supplemental Security Income may be the answer.

Other conditions, like autism, may be diagnosed in early childhood years but have an uncertain prognosis. In recent years, more post-secondary training options have become available to autistic young adults. Those opportunities, in turn, may allow them to find employment. Other autistic individuals may not be as lucky, needing to turn to the Social Security Administration and other sources of disability assistance.

A recent study provides additional context for this disability. The study was motivated by the discovery that Somali children in Minnesota were between two and seven times more likely to require autism specialized services in the Minneapolis public school system. To investigate, researchers examined the rate of autism among all children in Minneapolis.

The researchers’ data indicated comparable rates of the developmental disorder among children of all racial and ethnic groups. In Somali autistic children, however, the condition was more frequently accompanied by an intellectual disability. Consequently, the functional impairment of Somali children was often more severe, necessitating specialized education and services from the public school system at greater rates than other autistic children. Researchers do not yet have an explanation for that finding, and have called for more research.

Source: Star Tribune, “Autism hits Somali kids harder, University of Minnesota study finds,” Jeremy Olson, Dec. 16, 2013