Date of Conferral







Dr. Steven Little


The pervasiveness of autism has significantly increased over the past 2 decades with the 2014 Center for Disease Control and Prevention report indicating 1 in 68 children are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Early intervention is recommended as the most effective treatment approach. Nevertheless, previous research has indicated that White children are diagnosed with ASD about 1.5 years earlier than are Non-White children. A current gap remains in literature regarding ASD and different racial groups, and evidence has been inconclusive regarding disparities in identifying and diagnosing ASD. To fill this gap, this study investigated the relationship between child race, parents and teachers’ perceptions, and diagnosis of ASD among White and Non-White groups. The theoretical framework was the critical race theory. Archival data from the Psychological and School Services of Eastern Carolina included 48 preschool children from White (18) and Non-White (30) groups. The data’s variables of race, perceptions, and diagnosis were analyzed using multivariate analysis of variance. Results indicated a higher rate of diagnosis of ASD among the White group compared to the Non-White group. Yet, teachers’ perceptions of ASD were higher for the Non-White group, while parents’ perceptions of ASD were lower for the Non-White group. This finding confirms the nuances of ASD among racial groups which could promote efforts to better educate parents and teachers on developmental milestones, explore families’ unique beliefs, and emphasize the importance of accurate early detection. Also, considerations of culturally sensitive screening, diagnostic measures, protocols, and practices may be embraced to safeguard that children, regardless of race, receive timely and competent care.