The role of parental advocacy in addressing service disparities for transition-aged youth on the autism spectrum

Autism. 2022 May;26(4):1001-1006. doi: 10.1177/13623613211057660. Epub 2021 Nov 29.


It can be difficult for youth on the autism spectrum to get the services they need after they leave high school. Because of this, many studies have examined the different factors that are related to service access. These studies have shown that youth on the autism spectrum who belong to an underrepresented racial or ethnic group or whose families have lower incomes are less likely to receive the services that they need. However, it is difficult or impossible to change things like race/ethnicity or family income. It is important to also identify factors that might improve service access that we can change. One potential factor that fits into this category is parental advocacy activities. Using data collected from 185 parents of youth on the autism spectrum, we found that more parental advocacy activities were related to youth receiving more services, even after accounting for variables related to the functioning of the youth (e.g. whether they have an intellectual disability, their autism symptom severity) and demographic information about the family (e.g. state in which they live, parental race/ethnicity, and family income). Our findings suggest that building parental advocacy skills may be one important way to increase the number of services that youth on the autism spectrum receive as they transition to adulthood.

Keywords: autism spectrum disorder; parental advocacy; service access; transition-aged youth.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder* / therapy
  • Autistic Disorder*
  • Child
  • Child Development Disorders, Pervasive*
  • Humans
  • Intellectual Disability*
  • Parents