Connect with us


NBA Star Tony Snell Diagnosed With Autism at 31, says Diagnosis Not Surprising

 Image Name




Tony Snell, who played in the NBA for 10 years, is coming forward with an autism diagnosis he received at the age of 31.

In an interview with Today show reporter Craig Melvin, Snell shared his diagnoses did not come as a surprise to him. In fact, it explained why he felt different his whole life.

It all started when Snell and his wife Ashley noticed their son, Karter, was failing to meet some developmental milestones. Because he was showing signs of stimming (repetitive behaviors) and not talking by 18 months, his doctor suggested Karter get tested for autism. Carter was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Snell also went in for a test because he saw similarities between himself and his son. He too was diagnosed with Autism at the age of 31.

“I was always independent growing up, always been alone. I just couldn’t connect with people on the personal side of things, ” Snell told Craig Melvin. “I was not surprised because I always felt different. I was just relived, like, ‘Ah, this, why I am the way I am.’ And it just made my whole life, everything about my life make so much sense. It was like a clarity.”

Tony Snell grew up a tall, shy kid in South Los Angeles. He credits basketball for keeping him out of trouble and he defied the odds when he reached basketball stardom. “I could have easily joined in some gangs or just all negative things back then, but basketball just kept me on the straight narrow path that I wanted to be,” Snell said.

Autism Diagnoses in the Black Community

Autism is a developmental disability caused by differences in the brain, according to the CDC. Since Autism is a spectrum, people diagnosed with it can have varying challenges, including social interaction, repetitive behaviors, differences in learning, or movement.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report back in March that stated autism is being diagnosed more frequently in Black and Hispanic children than in white kids in the U.S.

In 2020, 1 in 36 8-year-olds in the U.S. had autism. Just two years earlier, it was 1 in 44. About 3% of Black, Hispanic and Asian or Pacific Islander children have an autism diagnosis, compared with about 2% of white kids. That is a reverse from just a decade ago when white children were more commonly diagnosed. According to the AP, in 2010, “white kids were deemed 30% more likely to be diagnosed with autism than Black children and 50% more likely than Hispanic children.

One explanation to the increase in diagnosis is that there has been a push to close the racial disparities in diagnosis. Although the increase in diagnoses is being praised as the step in the right direction, it is unclear if Black and Hispanic kids are getting the assistance they need at the same rate.

Another explanation is that even the mildest cases of Autism are now being diagnosis where as only moderate to severe cases were given diagnosis in the past.

As for NBA veteran Tony Snell, he believes he might not have had the same opportunities in life had he been diagnosed with Autism at a young age due to the stigma it carries. “I think I probably would have probably been limited with the stuff I could probably do. I don’t think I would be in the NBA if I was diagnosed with Autism. Because back then, like what is Autism?…They would probably put a cap on my abilities,” Snell told NBC.

Visit Autism Speaks for more information on Autism Spectrum Disorder.