Höfer, Juliana and Hoffmann, Falk and Kamp-Becker, Inge and Poustka, Luise and Roessner, Veit and Stroth, Sanna and Wolff, Nicole and Bachmann, Christian J. (2019) Pathways to a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder in Germany: a survey of parents. Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health, 13 (1). ISSN 1753-2000

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Background: Early identification of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) is a prerequisite for access to early interven‑tions. Although parents often note developmental atypicalities during the first 2 years of life, many children with ASD are not diagnosed until school age. For parents, the long period between first parental concerns and diagnosis is often frustrating and accompanied by uncertainty and worry. Methods: This study retrospectively explored the trajectories of children with a confirmed ASD diagnosis during the diagnostic process, from first parental concerns about their child’s development until the definite diagnosis. A survey concerning the diagnostic process was distributed to parents or legal guardians of children with ASD from three specialized ASD outpatient clinics in Germany. Results: The response rate was 36.9%, and the final sample consisted of carers of 207 affected children (83.6% male, mean age 12.9 years). The children had been diagnosed with childhood autism (55.6%), Asperger syndrome (24.2%), or atypical autism (20.3%). On average, parents had first concerns when their child was 23.4 months old, and an ASD diagnosis was established at a mean age of 78.5 months. Children with atypical autism or Asperger syndrome were diagnosed significantly later (83.9 and 98.1 months, respectively) than children with childhood autism (68.1 months). Children with an IQ < 85 were diagnosed much earlier than those with an IQ ≥ 85. On average, parents visited 3.4 different health professionals (SD=2.4, range 1–20, median: 3.0) until their child received a definite ASD diagnosis. Overall, 38.5% of carers were satisfied with the diagnostic process. Conclusions: In this sample of children with ASD in Germany, the time to diagnosis was higher than in the major‑ity of other comparable studies. These results flag the need for improved forms of service provision and delivery for suspected cases of ASD in Germany.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Publiziert mit Hilfe des DFG-geförderten Open Access-Publikationsfonds der Carl von Ossietzky Universität Oldenburg.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Autism spectrum disorder, Autism, Diagnosis, Diagnostic process, Pathways, Satisfaction, Germany
Subjects: Technology, medicine, applied sciences > Medicine and health
Divisions: Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > Department of Public Health and Medical Education
Date Deposited: 17 Mar 2020 13:48
Last Modified: 17 Mar 2020 13:48
URI: https://oops.uni-oldenburg.de/id/eprint/4457
URN: urn:nbn:de:gbv:715-oops-45389
DOI: 10.1186/s13034-019-0276-1

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