In today's society diversity has become a huge factor. Classrooms all over the world contain children with different ethnicities, socioeconomic backgrounds, family life styles, and disabilities. When children with different backgrounds enter a classroom it is important for the teacher to understand the child and any disability the child may have. Knowing as much information about the child as possible dramatically helps to improve the lives of children, especially those with disabilities. .
Autism is a disability that is becoming more prevalent within the United States and in classrooms. It is important to know what children are being affected and how we as educators can help them best, (http://www.child-autism-parent-cafe.com/autism-students-in-inclusive-classrooms.html). First, we need to know the definition of autism and who it affects. "Autism is a neurological developmental disorder characterized by impaired social functioning, impaired communication, and restricted and repetitive behaviors, " (Burack, A.J., Charman, T., Yirmiya, N., Zelazo, R.P., 2001). Some researchers believe that "Autism knows no racial, ethnic, or social boundaries, " (Dyches, T., Wilder, L., Sudweeks, R., Obiakor, F., & Algozzine, B, 2004). It is also believed that family income, lifestyle, and educational levels do not affect the chance of a child being diagnosed with Autism. However, differences are apparent among some races and educators need to be aware of these differences. .
Students with autism who are Black or Asian/Pacific Islander are labeled "Autistic " at twice the rate of students who are American Indian/Alaskan or Hispanic, (Warikoo, N., et. al., 2009). These statistics raise questions such as: are families from some minority cultures reluctant to have their children identified as having Autism or identified as having a disability at all? Or, are behaviors of some children with Autism not considered to be problematic by people of some cultures such as avoiding eye contact? The answers to these questions are important because the answers may affect how to teach a child with Autism who is from another culture.