Community Outreach for Diverse Populations
Statistics show that minority children are diagnosed two and a half years later than Caucasian children. At FBR, we have taken steps to change that.
Autism In Minorities
According to current statistics, 67 children are diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) every day, causing ASD to have become the fastest growing developmental disability in the United States (Autism Speaks). Autism knows no racial, ethnic, or socioeconomic boundaries. Despite this fact, racial disparities exist with respect to service availability and accessibility.
Studies indicate that minority children are diagnosed later and are more likely to be misdiagnosed, in contrast with Caucasian children. According to a study conducted by Mandell, Listerud, Levy and Pinto-Martin (2002), on
average, Caucasian children were diagnosed with autism at 6.3 years of age, whereas African-American children
were diagnosed at 7.9 years and Hispanics who were diagnosed on average 18 months later. Additionally,
Caucasian children typically access mental health services at 6 years of age in comparison to 7.1 years of
age for African-American children.
Many times doctors fail to diagnose immigrant children as having autism. Instead they refer to the child as being
“culturally confused.” Other immigrants, on the other hand, find it hard to seek services and care because their
culture sees autism as a “burden” and they are scared about their privacy being kept. Yet another reason why minorities may not seek care is because of their socioeconomic statuses or language barriers. They may feel as if they don’t have enough money to pay for such services or are confused with terms due to difference in languages.
Early diagnosis is critical in a child’s life.
It is important that minorities’ needs be taken care of so that these issues of late diagnosis and lack of care do not arise.
Even though many minorities do receive services, they may be minimal or inadequate. It is important to take
action and seek help.
Overview of FBR’s Community Outreach Program
Thanks to the support of Congressman Tim Murphy, in 2008 Family Behavioral Resources was granted $146,000 in federal appropriations funds to develop a community outreach program in the Penn Hills region of Pittsburgh.
We identified a need to support minority families impacted by autism. The primary focus of the Community Outreach Program for African-American Families Impacted by Autism Spectrum Disorders was to connect with African-American families with a child or children diagnosed with ASD in order to increase awareness of ASD, identify and overcome barriers to service delivery, increase the effectiveness of current services and develop additional services and
supports as needed. Consequently, unidentified children were diagnosed earlier, more accurately and gained access to the supports in order to access effective community-based treatment.
In addition to community outreach, FBR is committed to internal development and growth. Our Community Outreach Coordinator (COC) collaborated with the clinical management team at FBR to develop trainings for staff targeting cultural awareness, competency and sensitivity within service delivery.
The COC worked in conjunction with the Human Resources Department to focus on the recruitment, hiring
and retention of minority individuals to increase the diversity of FBR employees.
Our outreach efforts have taken us across Pennsylvania, the United States, and even the world.
Here is a sampling of our accomplishments:
• In March 2011, we sent Terry Sheffey and his wife, Christine Sheffey, to present "Autism Community Outreach: We Are a Village" and "Overview of Autism Spectrum Disorders: An Overview of Clinical Presentation, Treatment Modalities, and Autism's Impact on Minority Populations" to Guaranty Trust Bank's Autism Conference in Lagos, Nigeria. Mr. Sheffey travelled to Nigeria and presented with world-renowned experts in the field. Ms. Sheffey's Skype presentation was delivered via a live internet feed followed by 136,000 people across the world.
• Staff from FBR and AERI were interviewed for a video about autism in minorities that was been submitted to HBO for the Black Film Festival.
• Our COC was interviewed with local autism experts and researchers for The Fred Rogers Company about autism's impact on the African-American community.
• FBR and AERI have trained and supported multiple schools, daycares, and foster care agencies about autism and available services.
• FBR and AERI cooperate to manage a Facebook page, "Autism in the African-American Community," that has brought together families across the world to share stories, network, and share information.