A study published on March 25 in the journal PLOS ONE reveals that white US citizens with the autism spectrum disorder (ASD) receive more state funding than other minorities in California. On the average, whites from ages three to 17 get US$2,000 (AU$ 2,613) more than African Americans and Hispanics.

However, the disparity in comparison to other racial or ethnic groups is small. Generally, older people with autism spectrum disorder receive more funding than younger ones. Eighteen-year-olds and older people receive two and a half times more funding than younger people.

In all cases, however, people from the minority groups receive less funding than whites. The study also found that white Americans over the age of 18 receive $13,000 (AU$16,993) more than Hispanics, $10,000 (AU$10,456) more than Asians, $6,000 (AU$7,843) more than Native Americans and Pacific Islanders and $4,000 (AU$ 5,230) more than African Americans.

autism spectrum disorder

These bar charts highlight data presented in the study “Spending by California’s Department of Developmental Services for Persons with Autism across Demographic and Expenditure Categories,” which is published in PLOS ONE and authored by Paul Leigh, professor of public health sciences. Credit: UC Regents

The researchers believe that the location of the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) regional offices and individual cost of each office’s services may play a part for this difference. Nevertheless, they assert that the difference between funding should not even be this big and should remain the same across all ethnicities.

The study involved analysing 2010-2013 data of 42,000 DDS clients with intellectual disability. Its findings could help the authorities accurately estimate the total cost of autism services so everyone with the condition can be helped.

“We hope our data can help justify earlier, expanded and equitable spending on younger children with autism,” adds lead author Paul Leigh. “There is a great return on investment in high-quality early intervention services, which consistently have been found to reduce the disability associated with autism and to support the greater independence and integration in society as a whole of adults with autism.”

People with the condition get funding from the Department of Developmental Services (DDS). Speech and occupational therapies are just among the programmes given to those below 22 years.