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Kids With Autism Face Health Care Disparities, Study Finds
Date:6/15/2012

FRIDAY, June 15 (HealthDay News) -- Although children with autism spectrum disorders need more health care services, they have less access to specialized care than children with other conditions, such as asthma or diabetes, according to a new study.

The services used by children with autism are also more costly, the researchers from the University of Missouri-Columbia revealed in the report published in the July-September issue of Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders.

"Across the board, children with autism spectrum disorders used more health care services, including in-patient stays in the hospital, and required more medications," study co-author Nancy Cheak-Zamora, assistant professor of health sciences in the university's School of Health Professions, said in a university news release.

"Children's insurance companies paid more for services, and parents also paid more, with their out-of-pocket costs often exceeding a thousand dollars per year," she added.

Autism spectrum disorder is the umbrella term for a group of developmental disorders with similar features, ranging from Asperger's syndrome at the mild end to full-blown autism. In general, it is a complex disability that causes problems with social interaction and communication, and is often marked by obsessive and repetitive behaviors.

For their investigation, the researchers examined previous studies that calculated the total health care costs paid by the families of children with autism spectrum disorders. In analyzing the information, they found that children with autism, who are at risk for other conditions, such as seizures, sleep disturbances and gastrointestinal problems, paid more for the care they received than other kids with illnesses that required specialized care.

"Children with autism spectrum disorders need coordinated health care, better access to services and more affordable care," said Cheak-Zamora. "Insurance companies
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