Disparities Among Children with ASD in the US: Factors That Contribute to Inequities in Service and Policy Implications

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Rahman, Lauren

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This thesis analyzes the health disparities facing children with autism, or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and the gap in access to service and care based on race and socioeconomic status in the U.S. Minority children with autism and those who come from lower socioeconomic families have inequalities in receiving and using autism related services. Factors that contribute to these disparities include lower quality of services received from health providers, lack of access to services, and various cultural barriers. Research in autism, especially inequities in service, is an emerging field of social research, and the disparities are becoming more apparent. This thesis will analyze them through a literature review of empirical research focusing on disparities, barriers to care, and the effects of race and socioeconomic status on children with autism. Prevalent themes in the empirical literature include: the type of insurance of the families and systematic lack of access to care for minority families or families of lower socioeconomic status. The different barriers to access, utilization, and quality of care are analyzed and potential solutions are outlined and discussed. Policy implication of the findings include expanding public insurance benefits for therapies and care for children with ASD. Learning about the cultural barriers to care and addressing access issues for families of children with autism can have long term implications to our society by better educating the public and policymakers about autism.


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