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Friday, August 9, 2019

Disparities in Diagnosis and Service Access

In The Politics of Autism, I write about the experiences of different economicethnic and racial groups.

At the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders,Waganesh A. Zeleke, Tammy L. Hughes and Natalie Drozda have an article titled "Disparities in Diagnosis and Service Access for Minority Children with ASD in the United States. The abstract:
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.
From the article:
Data from this study highlights the role school services are already playing for minority families. Although insurance coverage was the same for both groups, minority families indicated that the schools were the most responsive to their needs. These results may be due to the outreach that  is already required via special education law. The process,
called Child Find (20 U.S.C. 1412 a (3)) requires districts to formally notify residents that their children may be eligible for services from birth through the age of 21. Although the process for contacting the school can vary by state or district, most often the community is notifed via flyers or other written announcements, often twice a year, that families may bring their children in for a variety of screening procedures (e.g., vision, hearing, physical, social-emotional, language, motor and cognitive development) free of charge. This process allows schools to help families access early intervention services including head start and other programs. Also, it helps families identify underlying medical conditions (e.g., ADHD) and developmental disabilities (e.g., ASD).
Although the data suggest that schools have been more successful that the general health care system that does not mean that best practice standards have been achieved