Services for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Comparing Rural and Non-Rural Communities
Maria P. Mello, Samantha E. Goldman, Richard C. Urbano, and Robert M. Hodapp
Abstract: This study compared service use for families of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) who live in rural vs. non-rural areas. Participants were 415 caregivers of children with ASD, of whom 101 (23.7%) lived in rural areas of a southeastern state. Participants completed an online survey regarding access and quality of different services. For rural families, the most common services that were recommended but not implemented included behavior support services and parent support groups. Rural families also had to travel longer distances and for more time to access these services. For behavior support services, rural (vs. non-rural) families had lower perceptions of effectiveness. In addition, a map showing locations of all of the state’s Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBA) and Speech Language Pathologists (SLP) revealed that, compared to SLPs, BCBAs were present in a lower percentage of rural counties. Implications for practice and future research are discussed.