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Disparities in Service Utilization Among Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Review of the Literature.

TitleDisparities in Service Utilization Among Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Review of the Literature.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsSmith, KA, Gehricke, JG, Iadarola, S, Wolfe, A, Kuhlthau, KA
JournalPediatrics Supplement

Aims and Objectives::
Children who are racial minorities or come from low-income families tend to get diagnosed with autism at older ages. It is less clear how race, ethnicity, and income relate to other aspects of autism care. This study looked at the current research to see how these factors influence access to and quality of care.

Investigators searched four medical databases* to find studies on inequalities in autism care. They read summaries of studies found in the search. After initial review, researchers read the full paper of relevant studies. Papers that talked about race, ethnicity, and income were included in the final review.

Researchers found eleven relevant research papers. These research papers found income-based and racial inequalities exist in autism care. Such findings impact access to care, frequency of referral, number of service hours provided, and number of unmet needs. Children in underserved communities were found to have less access to urgent care and other services than white children. Lower income families were also found to have less access compared to higher income families. Some papers found that African American, Hispanic, and low-income families report that they receive lower quality care.

This review shows that there are income-based and racial inequalities in autism care. Clinicians should actively address these problems.


Racial minorities- a racial group that is in the minority compared to a majority racial group. In the studies we considered, racial minorities were most often Latino and Black.

Databases- online catalogues of different research papers.

Autism spectrum disorder- a developmental disorder in which there are difficulties with communication and restricted and repetitive behaviors or thoughts.