Nutrition and Health Sciences, Department of


Document Type


Date of this Version



Autism 16:4 (July 2012), pp. 381–397.

doi: 10.1177/1362361311434787


Copyright © 2012 Virginia Chaidez, Robin L. Hansen, and Irva Hertz-Picciotto. Used by permission.


Objectives: To compare differences in autism between Hispanics and non-Hispanics. We also examined the relationship between multiple language exposure and language function and scores of children. Methods: The Childhood Autism Risks from Genetics and the Environment (CHARGE) study is an ongoing population-based case-control study with children sampled (n = 1061) from three strata: those with autism (AU) or autism spectrum disorder (ASD); developmental delay (DD); or the general population (GP). Results: Non-Hispanic cases demonstrated higher cognitive composite scores for the Mullen Scales of Early Learning (MSEL). There were significant associations between multiple language exposure and MSEL subscales for receptive language and expressive language, in both cases (AU/ASD) and TD controls, but not DD controls. Results of multivariate regression analyses suggest several predictors to be associated with lower Mullen expressive language scores, including diagnosis of ASD/AU, speaking to the child in a second language 25–50% of the time, and Hispanic ethnicity; while maternal college education was associated with higher scores. Conclusion: Overall, the CHARGE Hispanic group displayed more similarities than differences compared to non-Hispanics in terms of autistic phenotypes and maladaptive and adaptive scores for cases. The relationship between multiple language use and cognitive scores warrants a closer look.