Autism Speaks, But Do Spanish Speakers Have Access?

Published on
November 17, 2011

Early diagnosis of autism is crucial but it is also a diagnosis that parents dread and that can lead to finger pointing and family stress. But parents will tell you early diagnosis is just the beginning of a struggle for intervention, that's much harder if you don't speak a country's dominant language.

Diagnosis is based on observed behavior, educational and psychological testing but autism symptoms vary and families, doctors and teachers may have doubts regarding the diagnosis. The Internet seems to be the first place many parents and caretakers go for information and hope.

While information on Autism is available in Spanish on the web, the medical information isn't always easy to understand and resources aren't always local.

What is the prevalence of Autism among Los Angeles County's Hispanic population; what's the demographics for these households? How many of them speak Spanish at home?

Also, what local institutions exist in LA County that are both linguistically and culturally savvy for the area's large Latino population? How do these institutions outreach to Spanish-speakers, do they rely primarily on the Internet? How successful are their outreach efforts?

And how do parents-especially single parents and low-income households-navigate these institutions for quality services? And how do they provide support for each other?

These are some of the questions I plan to explore in the upcoming weeks.