Children whose lives might be improved by getting services for autism could be falling through the cracks, according to a new study conducted by Rutgers New Jersey Medical School.

The study, published in the journal Autism Research, found that one-fourth of children with autism spectrum disorder might go undiagnosed. Researchers also found that children whose autism is not recognized are more likely to be black or Hispanic.

“There may be various reasons for the disparity, from communication or cultural barriers between minority parents and physicians to anxiety about the complicated diagnostic process and fear of stigma,” Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Rutgers and study co-author Walter Zahorodny said. “Also, many parents whose children are diagnosed later often attribute their first concern to a behavioral or medical issue rather than a developmental problem.”

Zahorodny advocates that every child should be screened at 18 and 24 months, 30 or 36 months and again at 40 or 48 months.

According to Ada.com, the most common signs of autism include:

- Avoiding eye contact

- Delayed speech and communication skills

- Reliance on rules and routines

- Being upset by relatively minor changes

- Unexpected reactions to sounds, tastes, sights, touch and smells

- Difficulty understanding other people’s emotions

- Focusing on or becoming obsessed by a narrow range of interests or objects

- Engaging in repetitive behavior such as flapping hands or rocking

- Children not responding to their name by 12 months

- Children not pointing at distant objects by 14 months