Use of Autism-Related Services by Families and Children

  • Kathleen C. Thomas
  • Joseph P. Morrissey
  • Carolyn McLaurin
Original Paper


This paper describes approaches to care and associated service use by families with a child with autism. A combined telephone and self-administered survey was completed by 301 families with a child, 8 years old or younger, in North Carolina, during the winter of 2003–2004. Findings indicate that 66% of families used one or more approach to care and there was a significant (p < 0.05) association between approach and the pattern of service use. There appears to be a distinctive set of services associated with each approach to care, but with overlap between them. Speech/language therapy at school was the most frequently used service and also identified as the best service. The majority (81%) of families reported they were satisfied with services.


Autism Services Treatment approach 



Support for this research was provided by a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health (R21 MH066143). The authors wish to express their appreciation for the support and insight of Robin McWilliam, Vanderbilt University; Division TEACCH, especially Gary Mesibov and Ann Palmer; and the Neurodevelopmental Disorders Research Center, especially Joseph Piven and Renee Clark, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. We thank the North Carolina Public Schools, the Autism Society of North Carolina, North Carolina Families for Early Autism Treatment, the Children’s Developmental Services Assessment Centers, and the Survey Research Unit, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for their assistance. We especially wish to thank the Mentor Parents who participated in the focus groups and the families who participated in the study. Portions of this work were presented at the annual meetings of the American Public Health Association, 2003; the International Meeting for Autism Research, 2005; and the National Institute of Mental Health Conference on Mental Health Services Research, 2005.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kathleen C. Thomas
    • 1
  • Joseph P. Morrissey
    • 1
    • 2
  • Carolyn McLaurin
    • 1
  1. 1.Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services ResearchUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA
  2. 2.Department of Health Policy and Administration, School of Public HealthUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA

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