Knowledge of Autism for Parents of Low Income with Low Literacy: Description and Relationship to Child Development Knowledge

  • Jonathan M. CampbellEmail author
  • Daphne Greenberg
  • Peggy A. Gallagher
  • Zolinda Stoneman
  • Christina Simmons


Parents are critical for early detection of autism; however, children of low SES are identified later than their counterparts. Such delays in detection of autism may be attributed to limited parental knowledge of early developmental milestones and early signs of autism. Authors examined knowledge of developmental milestones and autism in 41 parents of low SES with low literacy. Participants were recruited from adult literacy programs and completed measures of developmental milestones and autism knowledge. Parents reported greater knowledge of motor milestones when compared to other milestones, including language, cognitive, social, and play milestones. Parent knowledge of milestones did not correlate with knowledge of autism. Parents overestimated social and play milestones that indicate autism risk, such as delays in responding to name and pointing to show interest, which may contribute to delays in detection of autism. Authors discuss implications of the results in terms of areas of future research.


Autism Parent knowledge Low literacy Developmental milestones 



The authors wish to thank Ashley H. Johnson, PhD, for her helpful feedback and comments on the manuscript.

Author Contributions

JMC: collaborated in the design and execution of the study, analyzed the data and reported results, and led writing of the manuscript. DG: collaborated with the design and execution of the study, and collaborated with writing and editing of the manuscript. PAG: collaborated in the design and execution of the study, and collaborated with writing and editing of the manuscript. ZS: collaborated with the design and execution of the study and editing of the manuscript. CS: collaborated in the development of measures and execution of the study.

Source of Funding

The research was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD) under Cooperative Agreement U01DD000231 to the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional review boards of the University of Georgia and Georgia State University and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


The content does not necessarily reflect the views and policies of CDC, NCBDDD, nor AUCD.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Educational, School, and Counseling PsychologyUniversity of KentuckyLexingtonUSA
  2. 2.Georgia State UniversityAtlantaUSA
  3. 3.University of GeorgiaAthensUSA

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