Black and Chinese students more likely to have autism, UK study finds

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Black and Chinese students more likely to have autism, UK study finds


Socially disadvantaged British children from ethnic minorities are more likely to suffer from autism, a new study finds.

According to researchers at the University of Cambridge, 1.76% of children in the UK, or about one in 57 children, have autism.

But black and Chinese students are 26% and 38%, respectively, more likely to be autistic than white children, they say.

Students with a history of autism in schools were 60% more likely to also be socially disadvantaged and 36% less likely to speak English than white children.

The new figures are based on data from 7,047,301 pupils aged 2 to 21 in public education in England.

They come ahead of World Autism Awareness Day, which falls this Friday, April 2.

In the largest autism prevalence study to date, researchers report a national English autism prevalence of 1.76%, with stark differences by ethnic group (stock image)

SYMPTOMS AND SIGNS OF AUTISM

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people with autism have problems with social, emotional, and communication skills that typically develop before the age of three and last a person’s life.

Specific signs of autism include:

  • Reactions to smell, taste, look, feel or sound are unusual
  • Difficulty adjusting to changes in routine
  • Unable to repeat or echo what is said to them
  • Difficulty expressing desires using words or movements
  • Unable to discuss own feelings or others
  • Difficulty with acts of affection such as cuddling
  • Prefer to be alone and avoid eye contact
  • Difficulty relating to others
  • Cannot point to objects or look at objects when others are pointing at them

“We can now see that autism is much more common than previously thought,” said study author Dr Andres Roman-Urrestarazu, of the Autism Research Center (ARC). and Cambridge Public Health from the University of Cambridge.

“We also found significant variations in the diagnosis of autism in different ethnic minorities, although it is unclear why this should be the case and warrants further research. ”

Autism is a developmental disability – not a disease – that affects the way people communicate and interact with others.

It is characterized by persistent difficulties in social communication and interaction, and by restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior, interests or activities in multiple contexts, say the study’s authors.

Previous estimates of the prevalence of autism in the UK by the same research group in Cambridge, and based on a school-based survey, suggested that one in 64 children (1.57%) had autism.

The new study, based on school records that generally underestimate the actual proportion of children who meet diagnostic criteria, shows a dramatic increase in the prevalence of autism in England.

Researchers say the increase is likely due to the fact that autism has been better recognized by parents and schools in recent years.

“We can now see a snapshot of the number of children with autism, explore local and ethnic variations and reveal links to vulnerability,” said study author Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, director of the BOW.

“It is important that we protect the rights of children to access diagnostic services and education tailored to their needs.

The study of 7,047,301 students was carried out with researchers from Newcastle University and Maastricht University in the Netherlands.

The team drew on data from the National Pupil Database School Census, collected by the Department of Education from people aged 2 to 21 in publicly funded schools in England. .

Overall, 119,821 students had an autism diagnosis on file in the English public education system, of which 21,660, or 18.1%, also had learning disabilities.

Boys had an autism prevalence of 2.8% and girls a prevalence of 0.65%, with a boy-to-girl ratio of 4.3: 1.

At 2.1%, the prevalence was highest among pupils of black ethnicity and lowest among Roma / Irish travelers, at 0.85%.

These estimates are the first to be published for these populations, according to the study’s authors.

Among other categorizations of ethnicity, based on UK census categories, Chinese students had an autism prevalence of 1.5 percent, an Asian prevalence of 1 percent, and a prevalence of 1.8 percent. one hundred for whites.

The team drew on data from the National Pupil Database School Census, collected by the Department of Education from people aged 2 to 21 in publicly funded schools in England. .

The team drew on data from the National Pupil Database School Census, collected by the Department of Education from people aged 2 to 21 in publicly funded schools in England. .

The researchers admit that the fact that the sample only included students in publicly funded schools is a limitation to their study.

The proportion of students attending state-funded schools between the ages of 3 and 18 in England is 93 percent, with the remaining 7 percent enrolled in independent schools and / or other modalities such as teaching home.

Another limitation is that pupils of certain ethnic origins, such as Roma / Irish Travelers, tend to leave school prematurely.

“Some evidence shows that about half leave school by age 16,” the team says in their article, published today in JAMA Pediatrics.

“As we used direct WHO validated standardization methods using UK census data, this issue has been tackled to the best of our resources.

The new study contrasts with the results of a 2010 article that reported significantly lower rates of autism among the black community and those of lower socioeconomic status.

Last year, researchers found a link between how often a young child looks at screens and the likelihood of developing autism-like symptoms.

However, other scientists reviewing the study were torn over the validity of the research and whether or not its conclusions could be reliable.

Transgender people up to six times more likely to have autism than those whose gender identity matches their birth sex, study finds

Transgender adults are up to six times more likely to be diagnosed with autism than those whose gender identity matches their birth sex, researchers found in 2020.

The University of Cambridge analyzed data from 600,000 adults from five different data sets, including more than 500,000 interviewees as part of the Channel 4 documentary “Are You Autistic?” released in 2018.

They found that autism rates among transgender adults far exceeded figures for the UK population as a whole.

While just over 1 percent of the UK population is estimated to be on the autism spectrum, up to 6.5 percent of adults of various sexes are on the autism spectrum.

Transgender and different-sex people were also more likely to report being diagnosed with mental health issues, particularly depression.

“People with autism and transgender and gender diverse people are marginalized and experience multiple vulnerabilities,” said Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, director of the Cambridge Autism Research Center.

“It is important that we protect the right of these people to be themselves, to receive the necessary support and to enjoy equality and the celebration of their differences, free from societal stigma and discrimination.

Read more: Transgender People “More Likely to Be Autistic,” Study Finds

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