A recent study performed in California finds a delay in autism diagnosis for Latino children, a problem one New York family says is widespread. YNN's Erin Billups filed the following report.
When Jesse and Ana Mojica first noticed troubling behavior from their then two-year-old son Adam, they had trouble getting a proper medical diagnosis for his symptoms.
"We went to his doctor at the time, and we expressed our concern that Adam was having trouble with eating, he wasn't smiling, and the doctor responded to us, 'You're a nervous father,'" says Jesse Mojica.
After reaching out to other doctors, the Mojicas eventually found out Adam was autistic.
"When he was finally diagnosed, it was probably a period of six months that we could have done something even sooner with Adam. To this day, that always stays with us," Mojica says.
The Mojicas are not alone.
A study published in the Pediatrics Journal finds that Latino children are typically diagnosed with autism more than two years later than white children.
"There's no reason to think that's a true difference in the prevalence of autism," says Autism Speaks psychologist Lauren Elder.
Advocacy group Autism Speaks launched it's "Maybe" campaign earlier this year, in an effort to fight the disparity in the Latino and black communities.
The campaign worked to highlight symptoms of autism, such as lack of eye contact, talking late and repetitive play with objects.
Mojica says he believes much of the delay in diagnosis is due to cultural barriers.
"Even though Ana and I were very much on the same page, our families were very much not on the same page," Mojica says.
This latest study is one of the first to suggest the problem may lie, in part, with providers, finding that only one in ten pediatricians were providing autism screenings in Spanish.
"We don't have enough free, high-quality developmental and autism screeners in other languages. We really need a national public health response," Elder says.
Adam is now 14, and his smile has returned.
He has a solid support system, goes to school and communicates well with his little brother.
"There isn't a day that is to be wasted. The journey that you thought you might've been on is probably going to be different, but it's no less glorious," Mojica says.
For more information on screening for autism, visit www.autismspeaks.org.