Access to Related Services for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder in a Large School District
Objectives: RQ (1): Do categories of related services vary by race, gender, grade, and median income for students with ASD in 5th and 8thgrade? RQ (2): As students with ASD transition from 5th to 6th grade and 8th to 9th grade, what changes occur in the categories of related services and whether related services vary by race, gender, and median income?
Methods: Using secondary data analysis from a large urban school district, participants included 1,324 students with ASD in 5th and 8th grades in the 2012-2013 school year who matriculated to 6th and 9th grade, respectively, in the 2013-2014 school year. Twenty related services were recoded into six categories of related services (i.e., Health, Behavioral Support, Motor Skills, Senses, Academic, and Communication). The median income variable was created using student zip code and 2010 census data. Descriptive analyses and binary logistic regressions were conducted to determine if race, gender, grade, and median income served as predictors of whether or not students with ASD in 5th grade and 8thgrade received the categories of the related services. Since most students did not receive a change in the categories of related services (0=no change), regression analyses were not feasible. Instead, descriptive statistics were used to understand the types of changes that occurred as students transitioned from one grade level to the next without the use of the predictor variables.
Results: As hypothesized, median income predicted categories of related services. Median income predicted half of the categories of related services when controlling for gender, grade, and race. Latino and Asian students had lower odds of receiving Academic Support services compared to White students. Females were more likely to receive health services compared to males. Compared to 5th grade students, students in 8th grade were 1.406 times more likely to have an increase in behavioral support service. However, students in 8thgrade were less likely to receive health services compared to 5th grade students. Over 90% of students received no change in related services as they transitioned from one grade level to the next.
Conclusions: The study examined the types of related services students with ASD received as they transitioned from elementary to middle school and from middle to high school and whether disparities exist when accessing related services in school districts. Students received more related services based on family median income. Female students and White students received more services than their counterparts. Students with ASD who transitioned from 5th to 6th grade and 8th to 9th grade received little to no change in related services.