delayed diagnosis; primary care screening; developmental disorders; autism spectrum disorder; Latino


Child Psychology | Clinical Psychology | Community Health


While Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and other developmental disabilities are being diagnosed at increasing rates, there is strong evidence of disparities in rates of identification and utilization of services by Latino children as compared to non-Latino children. Attempts to reduce these disparities include culturally-informed early screening for ASD risk. In preparation for initiation of a screening program in a primary care setting serving primarily Latino children, focus groups and interviews were conducted with Latino parents (N=31), medical staff (N=15), health care providers (N=4) to better understand the barriers and facilitators to engagement around developmental concerns that contribute to the low identification and service use for Latino children with autism. Using a thematic analysis approach, focus group and interview data revealed themes organized around three issues impacting engagement of Latino parents in screening for ASD: 1) information exchange, 2) culture, and 3) structure. In particular, parents and providers, felt that it was important to connect on the importance of developmental issues, address health literacy, acknowledge differences in language, beliefs, and values, and address structural barriers, like length of patient/provider interaction. Information obtained through this qualitative study informed the intervention, Supported Screening, to facilitate screening and referral for ASD at primary care sites that serve predominantly Latino families.