Symposium finds that lower percentage of ultra-Orthodox and Arabic children diagnosed with autism

Israel – The Times of Israel reports that there is a lower percentage of ultra-Orthodox and Arabic children diagnosed with autism compared with the general population.

As Autism Daily Newscast reported earlier this week, Autism researchers from Israel and Canada where at a Givat Ram, Hebrew University’s Edmond J. Safra Campus,this week for the first of its kind symposium.

Hélène Ouellette-Kuntz of the Department of Public Health Sciences at Queen’s University in Canada said that  not enough is known about autism in both Israel and Canada and that more research is needed.

Brief sessions focused on topics including genetics, communication, misdiagnosis, pregnancy, family experiences, and services available.

Recent numbers from the United States indicate that an average of one in 88 children have been diagnosed with a disorder on the autism spectrum. In Canada it is estimated that the number is 1 in 94. In 2010 Israel’s prevalence is much lower at 1 out of 208 children.

Michael Davidovitch of Maccabi Healthcare Services, which gathered the data said that the numbers have increased in recent years.

The Times of Israel states that:

‘Minorities in Israel have even lower prevalence rates: 1 out of 833 for Israeli Arabs living in rural populations, and 1 out of 386 for ultra-Orthodox Jews, compared to 1 out of 182 for the general Jewish Israeli population.’

Some possible explanations for the findings are, lower awareness and services that are available to Israeli Arabs and ultra-Orthodox Jews. Other suggestions include culture gaps between Arabic or ultra-Orthodox Jewish children and those diagnosing them. Language differences could also play a role.

Asher Ornoy, of the Israeli Ministry of Health and the Hebrew University Hadassah Medical School said that the average age of autism diagnosis in Israel is 25-30 months.

Autistic children living in more rural areas have more difficulties accessing services.

The original article by Rebecca McKinsey in The Times of Israel can be read here