Grandma Knows Best: Family Structure and Age of Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autism, Volume: 22 issue: 3, page(s): 368-376 (2018)

16 Pages Posted: 21 Jun 2019

See all articles by Nachum Sicherman

Nachum Sicherman

Columbia University; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

George Loewenstein

Carnegie Mellon University - Department of Social and Decision Sciences

Teresa Tavassoli

Mount Sinai Medical Centre

Joseph D. Buxbaum

Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai - Department of Psychiatry; Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai - Department of Genetics and Genomic Sciences; Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai - Icahn Institute for Genomics and Multiscale Biology; Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai - Seaver Autism Center for Research and Treatment; James J. Peters Veterans Affairs Medical Center - Mental Health Care Center

Date Written: April 1, 2018

Abstract

This pilot study estimates the effects of family structure on age of diagnosis, with the goal of identifying factors that may accelerate or delay diagnosis. We conducted an online survey with 477 parents of children with autism. In addition, we carried out novel, follow-up surveys of 196 “friends and family,” who were referred by parents. Family structure and frequency of interactions with family members have significant effects on age of diagnosis (p < 0.05). In all, 25% of parents report that other individuals indicated that their child might have a serious condition before they themselves suspected it. Moreover, around 50% of friends and family report that they suspected that the child had a serious condition before they were aware that either parent was concerned, suggesting that the clues were there to see, especially for experienced viewers. While half of those individuals shared their concerns with the parents, the other half either did not raise any concern (23%) or just “hinted” at their concern (27%). Among children with siblings, children with an older sibling are diagnosed approximately 10 months earlier (p < 0.01) than those without, and children with no siblings were diagnosed 6–8 months earlier than children with siblings (p < 0.01). Interestingly, frequent interactions with grandparents, especially grandmothers, significantly lowered the age of diagnosis by as much as 5 months (p < 0.05). While this pilot study requires replication, the results identify potential causes for accelerated or delayed diagnosis, which if better understood, could ultimately improve age of diagnosis and treatment, and hence outcomes.

Keywords: age of diagnosis, autism, family structure, grandparents, siblings

Suggested Citation

Sicherman, Nachum and Loewenstein, George F. and Tavassoli, Teresa and Buxbaum, Joseph D., Grandma Knows Best: Family Structure and Age of Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (April 1, 2018). Autism, Volume: 22 issue: 3, page(s): 368-376 (2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3399135

Nachum Sicherman (Contact Author)

Columbia University ( email )

3022 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
United States
212-854-4464 (Phone)
212-316-9355 (Fax)

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

George F. Loewenstein

Carnegie Mellon University - Department of Social and Decision Sciences ( email )

Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States
412-268-8787 (Phone)
412-268-6938 (Fax)

Teresa Tavassoli

Mount Sinai Medical Centre ( email )

United States

Joseph D. Buxbaum

Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai - Department of Psychiatry

New York, NY 10025
United States

Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai - Department of Genetics and Genomic Sciences

1425 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10029
United States

Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai - Icahn Institute for Genomics and Multiscale Biology

1425 Madison Ave
New York, NY 10029
United States

Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai - Seaver Autism Center for Research and Treatment

New York City, NY
United States

James J. Peters Veterans Affairs Medical Center - Mental Health Care Center

Bronx, NY
United States

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
3
Abstract Views
63
PlumX Metrics