Post-High School Adults With Autism Use Fewer Services

Almost 40 percent of young adults receive no services after high school; lower use in poor

THURSDAY, Feb. 10 (HealthDay News) -- A large percentage of young adults with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) do not use services after leaving high school; service rates vary according to race and socio-economic status, according to a study published in the February issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Paul T. Shattuck, Ph.D., from Washington University in St. Louis, and colleagues conducted a nationally representative telephone survey from April 2007 to February 2008 to estimate the rates of service use among young adults aged 19 to 23 with ASDs. Results were analyzed to determine the use of mental health services, medical evaluation and assessment, speech therapy, and case management in the preceding two years or since leaving high school.

The investigators found that 39.1 percent of young adults did not receive any services; African-Americans had higher adjusted odds of no service usage, as did those with low incomes. There was a wide range of service use between speech therapy (9.1 percent) and case management (41.9 percent). Patients with high functioning abilities and patients with low incomes had lower adjusted odds for using case management.

"The number of youths in the United States diagnosed as having an ASD and entering young adulthood will continue to rise in the foreseeable future," the authors write. "This study represents an important step in the process of building a foundation of evidence that can help improve services and foster independence and health among youths with ASDs."

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