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Psychiatr Serv. 2011 Aug;62(8):975-8. doi: 10.1176/

Mental health service use among adolescents with an autism spectrum disorder.

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  • 1Department of Social Work, Washington University, 1 Brookings Dr., Campus Box 1196, Saint Louis, MO 63130, USA.



This study examined prevalence and correlates of mental health service use among adolescents with an autism spectrum disorder.


Data from the National Longitudinal Transition Study-2 were used to examine mental health service use among 920 youths with this disorder. Estimates are nationally representative of students enrolled in the special education autism category. Regression models examined the association of predisposing, enabling, and need factors with service use overall and with a focus on receiving these services at school.


Overall, 46% (weighted) of the youths had used a mental health service in the past year. Of those who had, 49% (weighted) had received it at school. Need variables were the strongest correlates of service use. African-American youths and youths from lower-income families were more likely to receive school-based services.


Schools played a key role in providing services, especially for vulnerable populations. Focused attention on youths with an autism spectrum disorder is needed to ensure continuity of care as youths leave high school.

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