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A Survey of Parents with Children on the Autism Spectrum: Experience with Services and Treatments

Introduction: Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are lifelong neurodevelopmental disorders, and little is known about how parents address the health and psychosocial consequences of ASD. Few studies have examined use of various treatments and services in a large, diverse sample of children with ASD and their families. Objective: This paper presents methods to create an autism research resource across multiple large health delivery systems and describes services and treatments used by children with ASD and their families. Methods: Four study sites conducted a Web survey of parents of children and adolescents with ASD who were members of Kaiser Permanente. We tabulated data distributions of survey responses and calculated c2 statistics for differences between responders and nonresponders. Results: The children of the 1155 respondents were racially and ethnically diverse (55% white, 6% black, 5% Asian, 9% multiracial, 24% Hispanic) and representative of the total population invited to participate with respect to child sex (83% male), child age (57% < 10 years), and ASD diagnosis (64% autistic disorder). The most frequently used services and treatments were Individualized Education Programs (85%), family physician visits (78%), and occupational and speech therapy (55% and 60%, respectively). Home-based programs frequently included implementation of social skills training (44%) and behavior management (42%). Prescription medication use was high (48%). Caregivers reported disruption of personal and family routines because of problem behaviors. Conclusion: These survey data help to elucidate parents’ experiences with health services for their children with ASD and serve as a potential resource for future research.

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Permanente Journal
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Permanente Journal
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