International Meeting for Autism Research (London, May 15-17, 2008): Autism Spectrum Disorders: Reasons for Treatment Referrals Across the Developmental Life Span

Autism Spectrum Disorders: Reasons for Treatment Referrals Across the Developmental Life Span

Friday, May 16, 2008
Champagne Terrace/Bordeaux (Novotel London West)
9:30 AM
G. Mathai , Department of Pediatrics, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY
H. Patrick , Education and Counseling Psychology, University of louisville, Louisville, KY
R. A. Lisa , Department of Education, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY
Background: Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) ) affects 1 in 166 children (Fombonne, 2005). Treatment requirements for children with ASD vary with regard to severity of autistic symptoms, cognitive functioning and verbal language abilities. 

Objectives: The purpose of this study was to examine reasons for referral for treatment of 113 randomly selected children with ASD at different ages and explore relationships between these concerns and IQ and verbal ability.

Methods: Approximately 30 children were randomly selected from 801 medical records of children who represent  4 different developmental stages: (a) preschool (2-6 years), (b) elementary (7-11 years), (c) middle (12-14 years) and (d) High school (15-21years). The Top three primary referral concerns by physician or caregiver were then classified under different categories based on the need for service such as: (a) social skills, (b) speech, (c) behavior, (d) sensory/motor issues, (e) academic concerns, (f) anxiety, (g) depression, (h) adaptive functioning, or (i) other.
Results: The top three referral reasons for the 113 cases reviewed were first: social skills issues (72.6%),  second, behavior issues (52.2%), and third, speech concerns (49.6%). Social skills and behavior concerns were evenly distributed within all four developmental stages. Speech concerns were significantly higher in the preschool stage than in any other stage (p<.001). An IQ below 70 was significantly related to speech concerns (p < .001) and an IQ above 70 was significantly related to social skills concerns (p < .001). As expected, speech concerns were significantly higher in individuals who were non verbal.
Conclusions: These findings provide new information for treatment providers and public-funded agencies who are responsible for the provision of services for individuals with ASD, especially in planning and implementing services commonly sought by caregivers at various stages and understanding the influences of treatment concerns.