Patterns of Special Education Eligibility and Age of First Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Identification Among US Children with ASD

J Autism Dev Disord. 2023 May;53(5):1739-1754. doi: 10.1007/s10803-022-05475-5. Epub 2022 Feb 25.


The study examined timing of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) identification in education versus health settings for 8-year-old children with ASD identified through records-based surveillance. The study also examined type of ASD symptoms noted within special education evaluations. Results indicated that children with records from only education sources had a median time to identification of ASD over a year later than children with records from health sources. Black children were more likely than White children to have records from only education sources. Restricted and repetitive behaviors were less frequently documented in educational evaluations resulting in developmental delay eligibility compared to specific ASD eligibility among children with ASD. Future research could explore strategies reduce age of identification in educational settings and increase equitable access to health evaluations.

Keywords: Autism spectrum disorder; Disparities; Identification; Special education.

MeSH terms

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder* / diagnosis
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder* / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Child Development Disorders, Pervasive* / diagnosis
  • Education, Special
  • Humans
  • Population Surveillance / methods
  • Prevalence