Psychiatric hospital treatment of children with autism and serious behavioral disturbance

Child Adolesc Psychiatr Clin N Am. 2014 Jan;23(1):125-42. doi: 10.1016/j.chc.2013.07.004. Epub 2013 Sep 11.


Children with autism spectrum disorder are psychiatrically hospitalized much more frequently than children in the general population. Hospitalization occurs primarily because of externalizing behaviors and is associated with behavioral disturbance, impaired emotion regulation, and psychiatric comorbidity. Additionally, a lack of practitioner and/or administrator training and experience with this population poses risks for denial of care by third-party payers or treatment facilities, inadequate treatment, extended lengths of stay, and poor outcomes. Evidence and best practices for the inpatient psychiatric care of this population are presented. Specialized treatment programs universally rely on multidisciplinary approaches, including behaviorally informed interventions.

Keywords: Autism; Hospitalization; Inpatient; Intellectual disability; Psychiatric.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Aggression / psychology
  • Autistic Disorder / complications
  • Autistic Disorder / diagnosis
  • Autistic Disorder / therapy*
  • Behavior Therapy / methods
  • Child
  • Child Psychiatry / methods*
  • Child Psychiatry / standards
  • Clinical Competence
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Evidence-Based Practice
  • Female
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data*
  • Hospitals, Psychiatric*
  • Humans
  • Intellectual Disability / complications*
  • Intellectual Disability / diagnosis
  • Intellectual Disability / therapy
  • Mental Disorders / complications
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis
  • Mental Disorders / therapy*
  • Self-Injurious Behavior / complications
  • Self-Injurious Behavior / diagnosis
  • Self-Injurious Behavior / therapy
  • Treatment Outcome