Stigma As a Moderator for the Relation between Race and Autism Spectrum Disorder Diagnoses
Primary Author: Shelby Johnson
Faculty Sponsor: Tammy Barry
Primary College/Unit: Arts and Sciences
Category: Physical and Social Sciences
Principal topic: Past research has indicated that minority racial and ethnic groups in the United States face more barriers to accurate and timely autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnoses than their white counterparts. This project is designed to determine if stigma moderates the relation between race and the time lapse between symptom onset and ASD diagnosis.
Method: Data were collected from 152 parents of children with an ASD diagnosis. Parents reported at what age their child began showing signs of ASD, what age the child was officially diagnosed with ASD, and child’s race; they also completed a stigma scale measuring affective, behavioral, and cognitive stigma.
Results/implications: A t-test indicated that the time lapse between symptom onset and diagnosis did not significantly differ between white and non-white participants. Furthermore, the time lapse between symptom onset and diagnosis did not significantly relate to stigma. However, a regression analysis indicated that stigma moderated the relation between race and the time lapse in diagnosis when comparing white participants (n = 123, M = 21.63, SD = 17.36) to non-white participants (n = 29, M = 17.66, SD = 18.86) p = .02. These data suggest race and stigma play a significant role in how long it takes a child to receive an ASD diagnosis. Although neither race nor stigma individually related to the time lapse between onset and diagnosis, their interaction was significant. Parents of minority children who reported experiencing higher levels of stigma also reported the shortest time lapse between symptom onset and diagnosis.