Aims and Objectives:
Children with autism experience a range of health and developmental issues. They often require special services, but little is known about how services are being used by these children and their families. This study looked at the factors that influenced the choice of services for children with autism.
Participants included 1378 children with autism between the ages of 6 and 18 years. All were enrolled in the Autism Treatment Network. Researchers studied the type of services being used by a child on a given day 9-15 months after joining the Autism Treatment Network. The study team looked at 13 types of services. These included developmental therapy, behavioral interventions, medications, and special diets.
The team found 4 groups used services differently. The first group (about 1/8 of children) received limited services. They used an average of just one specialized service. The second group (about 3/8 of children) received a wide range of services. They used between 3 and 4 different types of services. The third group (a little less than half of children) mostly used educational and/or behavioral services. The final group (a little less than 1/8 of children) mostly used special diets or natural products.
“The children in the “wide range of services” group were diagnosed with more severe autism than those in the “educational and/or behavioral services” group. They also had more behavioral problems directed at other people or things. Children in the limited services group were more likely to be older and have more severe autism than the other groups. Those in the special diets/natural products group were more likely to have a higher household income and lower quality of life than the other children.
This study suggests that there are distinct patterns of service use among children with autism. These patterns may be related to individuals health and social factors. These findings may be used to inform clinical practices and decision-making.