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Research Letter
July 2011

Access to Autism Evaluation Appointments With Developmental-Behavioral and Neurodevelopmental Subspecialists

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Department of Emergency Medicine, School of Medicine (Dr Rhodes), and School of Social Policy and Practice (Ms Bisgaier and Dr Rhodes), University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; Pritzker School of Medicine, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois (Ms Levinson); and Department of Pediatrics, Hennepin County Medical Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota (Dr Cutts).

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2011;165(7):673-674. doi:10.1001/archpediatrics.2011.90

Autism spectrum disorders impact 1 in 110 children in the United States.1 Early intervention can improve the developmental trajectory of children with autism spectrum disorders,2 but eligibility and guidance for services can benefit from comprehensive diagnostic medical evaluation from a developmental-behavioral (DB) or neurodevelopmental disabilities (NDD) subspecialist.1,3,4

Concerns regarding increasing need and shortage of DB/NDD subspecialists have been raised,5 but the extent of access barriers to DB/NDD evaluations is unknown. In light of recent expansions of Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Programs (CHIP), there is also a need to determine whether DB/NDD subspecialist access is limited by insurance status. Prior studies of insurance-related barriers relied on family reports,6 which are prone to recall/response biases. The goal of this study was to measure real-life experiences of accessing appointments with DB/NDD subspecialists.7