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Health Needs of Autistic Children Often Unmet
Date:12/1/2008

Expenses greater than those for kids with other special needs, report shows

MONDAY, Dec. 1 (Health Day News) -- Parents of autistic children are more likely to see their sons or daughter's special health needs go unmet, a new government report shows.

Data from the National Survey of Children With Special Health Care Needs also indicated that when compared with families that have kids with other special emotional or physical needs, parents caring for autistic children face a significantly greater financial burden -- given that many must cut back their work schedule or quit their jobs altogether to care for their autistic child.

"Families of kids with autism were impacted much more strongly by the condition than the other groups, across all indicators," said study author Michael D. Kogan, director of the office of data and program development with the Maternal and Child Health Bureau at the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration, based in Rockville, Md.

Kogan and his colleagues publish the findings in the December issue of Pediatrics.

Recent National Institute of Health estimates suggest that as many as one in 166 children have some form of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) -- a constellation of conditions including autism, Asperger syndrome and pervasive developmental disorder. Children with ASD account for 5.6 percent of the larger pool of children coping with some type of special health-care need, the authors noted.

To get a handle on the real-world experience of caring for such kids, Kogan and his team analyzed 2005-2006 data concerning 2,088 children between the ages of 3 and 17 who were reported by their parents to have ASD.

In turn, the ASD group experience was compared with that of a second group of parents caring for another 9,534 children diagnosed with "other emotional, developmental or behavioral" problems. Both groups were also compared with a third poo
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