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Service and treatment use among children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders
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  • Alternative Title:
    J Dev Behav Pediatr
  • Description:
    Objective Children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) require substantial support to address not only core ASD symptoms, but also a range of co-occurring conditions. This study explores treatment and service use among children with ASD with and without intellectual disability (ID), and parents’ perception of unmet needs from these treatments. Methods Data come from a probability-based national sample of 2,077 children diagnosed with either ASD, ID, or both (ASD and ID). Weighted multivariate logistic regressions examined differences between diagnostic groups for current medication and service utilization with a sub-analysis exploring differences among those with co-occurring psychiatric conditions. Additional modeling examined parents’ perception of unmet needs. Results Children diagnosed with ASD and ID were significantly more likely to be receiving current medication and services when compared to children with ID only or ASD only. Children with a co-occurring psychiatric diagnosis, from all 3 diagnostic groups, were more likely to be receiving a current medication, but not more likely to be receiving a current service when compared with children without a co-occurring psychiatric diagnosis. Children with ASD and a co-occurring psychiatric diagnosis were significantly more likely to have parents who reported unmet needs when compared with parents of children with ASD without a co-occurring psychiatric diagnosis. Conclusions Children diagnosed with ASD and ID, especially those with a comorbid psychiatric condition, represent a vulnerable population with substantial rates of current service (98%) and medication (67%) usage, but despite these high rates, approximately 30% of parents report that their child’s developmental needs are still not being met by their current treatment and services.
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