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The Hidden Trauma: How Immigration Policy in the United States has Inflicted Violence on Latinx Families in the Autism Community

Shelby Thurman


Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that impacts 1 in 54 children in the US (Maenner, Shaw, Baio, Washington et al., 2020). While autism does not discriminate in terms of the population it impacts, there are severe healthcare disparities present in autism between Latinx children and White children (Casillas, Vigil, Wang, 2017; Angell, Frank, Solomon, 2016; Nevison and Zahorodny, 2019). Despite Latinx children being the population whose autism prevalence trend has had a sharp increase between 2007-2013 (Nevison and Zahorodny, 2019), Latinx children are consistently diagnosed with autism on average 2.5 years later than white children (Zuckerman, Mattox, Donelan, Batbayar et al., 2013) and the reasoning for this gap has consistently remained an enigma. Immigration policy in the United States extends beyond keeping the borders safe; it has a direct influence on the healthcare system (Fountain and Bearman, 2011) in terms of the treatment provided and the resources available. Immigration policy is a direct attack on Latinx families throughout America and have caused unnecessary harm and violence to be perpetuated on this population. This paper argues that immigration policy is the underlying reason for the existing harmful disparities blatantly present in the autism community for Latinx families and the disparities that exist are a form of structural violence.

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