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Introduction: Autism is a lifelong neurodevelopmental condition that is estimated to impact 1 in 44 children. In Aotearoa New Zealand, the rate of autism among Pasifika children and young people (38.6 per 10,000 people) is substantively lower than other ethnic groups (67.5 for European and 47.2 for Māori); however, the complexities associated with Autism diagnosis in Pasifika is unknown.
Aim: We compared rates of Autism and co-occurring diagnoses of conditions as a proxy for Autism case complexity between Pasifika and NMNP young people (aged 0-24 years) in Aotearoa New Zealand.
Methods: This national, cross-sectional study was undertaken using data from a national database; the Integrated Data Infrastructure (IDI). Three separate indicators were created to reflect different types of complexity for someone with autism: Asperger’s syndrome (identifies those with lower complexity with fewer demands on support services); intellectual disability (higher needs/greater complexity); ORS funding (higher needs/greater complexity).
Findings: In this present study, Pasifika in Aotearoa New Zealand had much lower autism identification rates in comparison to Non-Māori Non-Pasifika (NMNP) (53.3 per 10,000 vs 83 per 10,000). After adjusting for socioeconomic differences, Pasifika had significantly lower odds (Odds Ratio (OR) = 0.47) of having an Asperger’s syndrome diagnosis. However, Pasifika had significantly higher odds of having an intellectual disability (OR = 2.23) and being Ongoing Resources Scheme funded (OR = 2.18).
Conclusions: Using this method within the IDI, Pasifika children in Aotearoa continue to have lower rates of Autism diagnosis; however, they are more likely to have a higher complexity of autism diagnosis.
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