Identifying the Clinical Needs and Patterns of Health Service Use of Adolescent Girls and Women with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Weiss, Jonathan A.
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Girls and women in the general population present with a distinct profile of clinical needs and use more associated health services compared to boys and men; however, research focused on health service use patterns among girls and women with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is limited. In the current study, caregivers of 61 adolescent girls and women with ASD and 223 boys and men with ASD completed an online survey. Descriptive analyses were conducted to better understand the clinical needs and associated service use patterns of girls and women with ASD. Sex/gender comparisons were made of individuals’ clinical needs and service use. Adolescent girls and women with ASD had prevalent co-occurring mental and physical conditions and parents reported elevated levels of caregiver strain. Multiple service use was common across age groups, particularly among adolescent girls and women with intellectual disability. Overall, few sex/gender differences emerged, although a significantly greater proportion of girls and women accessed psychiatry and emergency department services as compared to boys and men. Though the current study is limited by its use of parent report and small sample size, it suggests that girls and women with ASD may share many of the same high clinical needs and patterns of services use as boys and men with ASD. Areas for future research are discussed to help ensure appropriate support is provided to this understudied population.