Disparities in Diagnosis and Service Access for Minority Children with ASD in the United States

  • Waganesh A. ZelekeEmail author
  • Tammy L. Hughes
  • Natalie Drozda
Original Paper


This study examined children with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) using data from the 2011 Survey of Pathway to Diagnosis and Services national data set (n = 1715). When comparing white and minority families, results indicate there were no differences between the child’s treatment needs based on the number and type of ASD symptoms or insurance coverage. However, minority parents were less likely to contact a doctor or health care professionals about their concerns, waiting years, rather than months as described by white families, to have the child evaluated. Although both white and minority families received similar types of care (e.g., conducting developmental tests, making a referral to a specialist, suggesting that the parent discuss the concern with the school), white families reported they were more formally engaged in the diagnostic process and subsequently visited a larger variety of service providers. White parents were more satisfied with the services that their child received from doctors and other health care providers whereas minority families indicated school services were more responsiveness to their needs. Recommended outreach efforts are suggested and described.


Autism Disparity Mental health access Minority families Diagnosis 


Author Contributions

WAZ designed the study, conducted the statistical analysis, analyzed the data, wrote the initial draft of the paper, and participated in revising the manuscript and addressing the reviewers’ comments. TLH assisted with manuscript development, provided guidance on statistical analysis, and actively participated in writing part of the paper and revising the manuscript as well as addressing the reviewers’ comments. ND assisted with manuscript development and reviewing the literature necessary to this article.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Waganesh A. Zeleke
    • 1
    Email author
  • Tammy L. Hughes
    • 1
  • Natalie Drozda
    • 1
  1. 1.Duquesne UniversityPittsburghUSA

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