Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that impacts an individual’s ability to relate to and communicate with others. Although children often do not receive a diagnosis until age 4-5 years (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2014), parents typically recognize developmental problems by age 2 years (Chawarska et al., 2007), and often in the first year of life (Kishore & Basu, 2011). However, these early concerns do not always translate into appropriate or timely steps to access care. Few studies have examined factors relating to the time lag that exists between early concerns and action. Because early intervention for ASD is critical for best outcomes, it is important to understand factors that can delay access to treatment. The current study included 4,215 toddlers between the ages of 16-37 months who were evaluated for an IDEA, Part C early intervention program in Louisiana. It closely examined child and family factors (i.e., the age of the child when parents first note concerns, gender, ethnicity, birth order, presence of a family member with ASD), the nature of early parental concerns, and symptom presentation to determine how these factors impact the time lag between parental first concern and entry into an early intervention program. Ethnicity was found to be a significant predictor of lag time such that minority families experienced a longer lag. The disparity was present across all functioning levels, although the difference was most pronounced for toddlers with functional impairments. Longer lags when parents reported general rather than specific concerns about their child’s development were also noted. Additional findings, their implications, and future directions for research relating to lag time were discussed.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Matson, Johnny

Included in

Psychology Commons