Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 49, Issue 3, pp 1242–1249 | Cite as

Inpatient Psychiatric Treatment of Serious Behavioral Problems in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD): Specialized Versus General Inpatient Units

  • Briana J. TaylorEmail author
  • Kevin B. Sanders
  • Marie Kyle
  • Kahsi A. Pedersen
  • Jeremy Veenstra-Vanderweele
  • Matthew Siegel
Original Paper


Psychiatric hospitalization of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is common, but there is little comparative information available on different psychiatric hospital treatment models. Children with ASD ages 4–20 were enrolled upon admission to either a specialized (N = 53) or a general child psychiatric unit (N = 27). Caregivers completed the Aberrant Behavioral Checklist-Irritability Sub-scale (ABC-I) at admission, discharge, and 2 months post-discharge and reported information on crisis service utilization 2 months post-discharge. Children treated in the specialized unit had lower ABC-I scores at discharge and 2 months post-discharge (F = 8.98, p = 0.003) and were significantly less likely to experience an ER visit within 2 months post-discharge (X2 = 5.51, p = 0.019). Specialized inpatient units may be more effective for children with ASD in need of psychiatric hospitalization.


Autism Inpatient Psychiatric hospitalization Specialized unit 



We gratefully acknowledge the families and children who participated in this research.

Author Contributions

MS and JV for conceptualization and significant writing of the manuscript, BJT and KAP for statistical analyses, BJT, KBS, and MK for significant writing and revisions of the manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed Consent was obtained from all individual participants in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Briana J. Taylor
    • 1
    Email author
  • Kevin B. Sanders
    • 2
  • Marie Kyle
    • 3
  • Kahsi A. Pedersen
    • 1
    • 4
  • Jeremy Veenstra-Vanderweele
    • 2
    • 5
  • Matthew Siegel
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.Center for Psychiatric ResearchMaine Medical Center Research InstitutePortlandUSA
  2. 2.Department of Psychiatry and PediatricsVanderbilt University School of MedicineNashvilleUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychiatryVanderbilt University School of MedicineNashvilleUSA
  4. 4.Department of PsychiatryTufts University School of MedicineBostonUSA
  5. 5.Department of PsychiatryColumbia University Medical CenterNew YorkUSA

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