Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Autism-Related Health and Educational Services

Lucy A. Bilaver, Judy Havlicek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective:The objective of this study is to measure racial and ethnic disparities in autism-related services among U.S. children with parent-reported autism spectrum disorder (ASD).Methods:Using the 2011 Survey of Pathways to Diagnosis and Services, we analyzed parent-reported data on 1420 children with current ASD in the nationally representative sample. An estimation method consistent with the Institute of Medicine's definition of health care disparities is used to measure racial and ethnic disparities.Results:The findings revealed Latino-white disparities in the percentage of children currently using school-based occupational and physical therapy and Latino-white and "other race"-white disparities in the percentage of children using physical therapy outside of school. There were no statistically significant black-white disparities. Instead, the study found that the percentage of black children with ASD receiving school-based services was 8 points higher than that of white children (p < 0.04). Factors unrelated to the need for autism services were largely unassociated with the receipt of services.Conclusion:The findings provide a partial baseline and identify a need for further examination of the source of existing disparities and the lack of disparities found for specific services and minority groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)501-510
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics
Issue number7
StatePublished - Sep 1 2019


  • Index terms
  • autism spectrum disorder
  • behavioral therapy, cognitive therapy
  • habilitative therapy
  • racial and ethnic disparities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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