This article examines whether government-sponsored early intervention programs have the capacity to meet surging demand for autism services. In 2007, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that all children be screened for autism at 18 and 24 months of age. This recommendation is expected to result in increased demand for services for autism spectrum disorders. Early intervention programs provide autism services for children under three years of age in all 50 states, and provide almost all autism services for children living in poverty.
The authors interviewed 52 early intervention coordinators from 47 states, four territories, and the Bureau of Indian Education. They analyzed the results of the survey using unpaired t-tests and regression models.
Diagnoses of autism spectrum disorders have increased significantly in the last decade and are expected to continue to increase as more children are screened early in life. Early Intervention programs are the first line of care for most poor children with autism and these programs may not have the capacity to address increasing demand for autism services.