Characteristics of School-Age Children with Autism


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Abstract

The objectives of this study were to provide a national profile of children with autism, to describe the impact of autism on school functioning, and to describe the utilization of services among children with autism. We performed a cross-sectional descriptive analysis of 9583 children (grades K-8) from the 2001 National Household Education Survey Before and After School Survey. We used parent-reported information to determine the prevalence of autism, and children with autism were compared to children without autism on sociodemographic measures and several measures of school functioning and utilization of services. The prevalence of autism in this sample was 66 per 10,000. Children with autism were proportionately represented in all communities and all regions of the country. While children with autism were equally likely to attend public schools compared to children without autism, they were significantly more likely to have learning difficulties and to carry multiple diagnoses, including attention deficit disorder and learning disability. Most of these children received services for their disability through the school district. In conclusion, data from this survey yielded a prevalence estimate of autism similar to other recent studies. Children with autism have performance and behavior problems that persist despite the availability of services to the majority of children. The important needs of these children warrant further attention.

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