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Survey of Service Provision for Young Children with ASD Across Europe

Thursday, 2 May 2013: 14:00-18:00
Banquet Hall (Kursaal Centre)
E. Salomone1, H. McConachie2, P. Warreyn3, J. Sinzig4, M. Noterdaeme5, L. Poustka6 and T. Charman7, (1)Centre for Research in Autism and Education, Institute of Education, University of London, London, United Kingdom, (2)Newcastle University, Newcastle Upon Tyne, United Kingdom, (3)Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium, (4)Department for Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, LVR-Klinik Bonn, Bonn, Germany, (5)Klinik für Kinder- und Jugendpsychiatrie und Psychotherapie, Augsburg, Germany, (6)Central Institute of Mental Health, Mannheim, Germany, (7)Centre for Research in Autism & Education, Institute of Education, London, United Kingdom
Background: Worldwide, various treatment and educational approaches have been developed for children with ASD. However, little is known about the actual availability of such treatments across Europe. Additionally, there are no reports on the uptake of “complementary/alternative medicine” (CAM) approaches.

Objectives: To document the type and intensity of treatment and education provision, medications and the use of CAM in young children with ASD in Europe. 

Methods: Parents of children with ASD aged 6 or younger were recruited through national parent organizations in 20 European countries and asked to complete a brief online survey (translated into 19 languages). The survey comprised questions on current provision of various treatment approaches, access to special education, use of medications and additional supports/aids and use of CAM. Data collection is ongoing and final results will be available by November 2012.

Results: Data collection yielded 1302 completed questionnaires so far. Based on initial screening regarding diagnosis and age of the child, approximately 80% of participants were considered eligible for the study.  Speech and language therapy was the most frequently reported treatment currently received in most of the countries and overall 61% of parents reported receiving some speech therapy. Only in a minority of countries were the most frequently reported interventions behavioural interventions or parent training. The most frequently reported additional support was use of pictures exchange or use of visual aids (58%). Use of medication ranged from < 10% to 40%. Preliminary analyses show only marginal use of CAM in this sample.

Conclusions: Preliminary results of this ongoing study identified huge variability across Europe in terms of type and amount of available treatments for young children with ASD. Current reception of both treatment and educational provision was found to be inconsistent with current recommendations in European national guidelines. These initial findings highlight the need to monitor treatment and education provision for children with ASD in Europe in order to contrast inequalities, specifically in relation to access to evidence-based interventions.

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