Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 37, Issue 10, pp 1902–1912 | Cite as

Access to Care for Autism-Related Services

  • Kathleen C. ThomasEmail author
  • Alan R. Ellis
  • Carolyn McLaurin
  • Julie Daniels
  • Joseph P. Morrissey
Original paper


This paper identifies family characteristics associated with use of autism-related services. A telephone or in-person survey was completed during 2003–2005 by 383 North Carolina families with a child 11 years old or younger with ASD. Access to care is limited for racial and ethnic minority families, with low parental education, living in nonmetropolitan areas, and not following a major treatment approach. Service use is more likely when parents have higher stress. Families use a broad array of services; the mix varies with child ASD diagnosis and age group. Disparities in service use associated with race, residence and education point to the need to develop policy, practice and family-level interventions that can address barriers to services for children with ASD.


Autism Services Access 



Support for this research was provided by a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health (R21 MH066143) and by funding from the Centers for Disease Control through the North Carolina Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities Research and Epidemiology. The authors wish to express their appreciation for the comments of three anonymous reviewers and 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 families who participated in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kathleen C. Thomas
    • 1
    Email author
  • Alan R. Ellis
    • 1
  • Carolyn McLaurin
    • 1
  • Julie Daniels
    • 2
  • Joseph P. Morrissey
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services ResearchUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA
  2. 2.Department of Epidemiology, School of Public HealthUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA
  3. 3.Department of Health Policy and Administration, School of Public HealthUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA

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