Service Use Classes Among School-aged Children From the Autism Treatment Network Registry

Pediatrics. 2020 Apr;145(Suppl 1):S140-S150. doi: 10.1542/peds.2019-1895Q.


Background and objectives: Use of specific services may help to optimize health for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD); however, little is known about their service use patterns. We aimed to (1) define service use groups and (2) determine associations of sociodemographic, developmental, behavioral, and health characteristics with service use groups among school-aged children with ASD.

Methods: We analyzed cross-sectional data on 1378 children aged 6 to 18 years with an ASD diagnosis from the Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network registry for 2008-2015, which included 16 US sites and 2 Canadian sites. Thirteen service use indicators spanning behavioral and medical treatments (eg, developmental therapy, psychotropic medications, and special diets) were examined. Latent class analysis was used to identify groups of children with similar service use patterns.

Results: By using latent class analysis, school-aged children with ASD were placed into 4 service use classes: limited services (12.0%), multimodal services (36.4%), predominantly educational and/or behavioral services (42.6%), or predominantly special diets and/or natural products (9.0%). Multivariable analysis results revealed that compared with children in the educational and/or behavioral services class, those in the multimodal services class had greater ASD severity and more externalizing behavior problems, those in the limited services class were older and had less ASD severity, and those in the special diets and/or natural products class had higher income and poorer quality of life.

Conclusions: In this study, we identified 4 service use groups among school-aged children with ASD that may be related to certain sociodemographic, developmental, behavioral, and health characteristics. Study findings may be used to better support providers and families in decision-making about ASD services.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / therapy*
  • Canada
  • Child
  • Child Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Facilities and Services Utilization / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Registries
  • United States