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Predictors of unmet needs and family debt among children and adolescents with an autism spectrum disorder: Evidence from Ireland

Áine Roddy and O’Neill, Ciaran

Health Policy, 2020, vol. 124, issue 3, 317-325

Abstract: Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) are a life-long neurodevelopmental condition where individuals affected and their families require varying intensities of services and supports. A growing body of evidence provides consensus that early intervention may improve long-term outcomes. The purpose of the paper is to identify the factors that explain variations between families raising a child/children with an ASD in their experience of specific unmet needs and/or experience of debt. Analysis was based on data collected as part of a larger study that examined the economics of autism spectrum disorder in Ireland among 195 families with 222 children aged between 2–18 years of age in 2014/2015. The findings from parental reported responses show over 74 % of children did not receive one or more services in the previous 12 months. Average debt per year per family was €3259. Regression analyses showed that families that had two or more children with an ASD were more likely to experience unmet needs and incur debt specifically because of the child’s condition than families with one child with an ASD. The study shows there is a significant level of unmet need and economic hardship, as evident in the level of ASD related debt which may make current met needs unsustainable in the future. Issues of capacity and geographic inequity that warrant a policy response were also evident.

Keywords: Autism spectrum disorders; Unmet service needs; Family debt; Financial hardship; Ireland (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.1016/j.healthpol.2020.01.005

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