Objective: Our objective was to compare access to and satisfaction with school and community health resources among families with a child with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and families of other children with special health care needs (CSHCN).
Methods: Parents of 40,256 children aged 0 to 17 were surveyed by the 2005-2006 National Survey of Children With Special Health Care Needs. Autism was defined by the question, "To the best of your knowledge, does (child) currently have autism or autism spectrum disorder, that is, ASD?" We used chi(2) and multivariate regression analyses to compare access to and satisfaction with services for parents of children with ASDs and parents of other CSHCN.
Results: Children with ASDs (n = 2123) comprise 5.4% of the CSHCN. More parents of children with ASDs reported difficulty using school and community services (27.6% vs 9.7%) and dissatisfaction (19.8% vs 7.9%) than parents of other CSHCN. Multivariate models determined that parents of children with ASDs were 3.39 times more likely to experience difficulty in obtaining services and 2.65 times more likely to be dissatisfied with services received than parents of other CSHCN, after controlling for household demographics and insurance status. Parents of children with ASDs reported a lack of available services and skilled providers.
Conclusions: Parents of children with ASDs reported less access to and more dissatisfaction with school and community health services than parents of other CSHCN. An increased supply of appropriate services with qualified providers for children with ASDs is needed in the United States.