Resident Brookdale University Hospital Medical Center Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center Jamaica, New York, United States
Background: Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are neurodevelopment conditions characterized by impairment in social interaction & communication. In addition to preventive care, children with ASD may require services for other medical & psychiatric conditions. There is limited information on current access to health services for these children.
Objective: To evaluate access to needed health services for US children with ASD & to assess parental perceptions in acquiring those services.
Design/Methods: Secondary data analysis from the 2018 National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH) regarding access to health services in children 6-11 years of age with and without ASD & their parents’ perception of appropriateness of care. For the 2018 NSCH survey, ASD referred to children with autism, ASD, Asperger’s or Pervasive Developmental Disorder. Outcome variables included access to health services comprising general, vision, dental & mental health, use of alternative medicine as well as parental perceptions about practitioners spending enough time with patients, listening to parents, showing sensitivity & helping to coordinate care. Frequencies and descriptive statistical analyses were used to describe the study variables. Cross tabulation analyses and co-relational analyses were used to examine relationships among predictor and outcome variables.
Results: Of 30416 children aged 0-18 years, 9330 were aged 6-11 and included in the study. Of these 9330, 300 (3.2%) had ASD diagnosis. Table 1 describes demographic characteristics of children with & without ASD. Most children with ASD were males (78% vs. 51%, P <0.001). Table 2 compares access to health services for the 2 groups. Children with ASD were more likely to have more visits to primary care provider (p=0.003), eye specialist (p=0.02), mental health (p<001) but less to dental services (p=0.001). ASD children also received more counseling, subspecialty, emergency & alternative care (p<0.001). Yet, parents of children with ASD were more likely to perceive that needed health care was not received (p<0.001), physician did not spend enough time (p<0.001), did not listen to parents (p<0.001), not always showed sensitivity (p<0.001), or helped parents to coordinate care (p<0.001). Conclusion(s): Children with ASD received more health services, except for dental, than children without ASD. However, parents perceived that health services were not sufficient. There is a need for increased access to needed health services, especially dental care & for optimizing coordination of care in US children with ASD.
Authors/Institutions: Ajitha Yeluru, Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center, Jamaica, New York, United States; Sharef Al-Mulaabed, Presbyterian Medical Group, Albuquerque, New Mexico, United States; Fernanda E. Kupferman, Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center, Brooklyn, New York, United States