Autism Spectrum Disorder Knowledge and Experience Among Low-Income Parents Attending WIC
Objectives: To assess ASD knowledge and information in a large, ethnically diverse sample of low-income parents.
Methods: We conducted a self-administered survey on 539 parents attending their child’s appointment at the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) in six Oregon counties, from July through October, 2015. Eligible participants had a child aged 24-59 months enrolled in WIC. Surveys were conducted in English or Spanish; bilingual oral administration was available if necessary. Survey items assessed knowledge of early signs of ASD, self-reported knowledge about ASD, and having a friend or family member with ASD. Bivariable and multivariable analyses assessed differences in outcomes for following racial/ethnic/language groups: non-Latino white [NLW], Latino-English proficient [EP], Latino-limited English proficient [LEP], and non-Latino other race English proficient [NL-O].
Results: 79% of parents approached completed the survey. Overall, parents correctly identified 64.7% of early signs of ASD. NLW and Latino-EP parents correctly identified the most early signs of ASD, even after adjustment for sociodemographic differences among racial/ethnic/language groups. Overall 9.9% (95% CI=7.6%-12.8%) of families had “never heard of ASD” and 35.4% (31.4%-39.6%) reported they had “heard of ASD but didn’t know much about it.” On bivariable analysis, Latinos with LEP (15.3% [10.9%-21.2%]) and NL-O (15.7% [8.0%-28.5%]) were more likely to have never heard of ASD compared to NLW (1.9% [0.6%-5.9%]). Overall, 71.4% (67.5%-75.1%) of participants had no friends and no family members ASD. Latinos with LEP (16.2% [11.6%-22.2%]) were significantly less likely to have a friend or family member with ASD as compared to parents in the other three racial/ethnic/language groups.
Conclusions: Low-income parents, particularly Latino-LEP and NL-O parents, have relatively little knowledge and personal experience with ASD. Study findings suggest that interventions to reduce disparities in ASD diagnosis should include increasing parent awareness in low income and ethnic minority communities.