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Impact of Autism Navigator on Access to Services

Roth, Beth Mishkind MSSA, LISW-S; Kralovic, Shanna DO; Roizen, Nancy J. MD; Spannagel, Sarah Cain PhD; Minich, Nori; Knapp, Julie PhD

Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics: April 2016 - Volume 37 - Issue 3 - p 188–195
doi: 10.1097/DBP.0000000000000261
Original Articles

Objective: To determine whether access to an Autism Patient Navigator (APN) for children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) at <48 months of age would be useful and lead to more appointments with needed services.

Method: Participants included parents of 39 children diagnosed with ASD in a multidisciplinary clinic. After diagnosis, the patients were randomized to 4 groups: Medicaid early (n = 9) or late support (n = 9) and non-Medicaid early (n = 11) or late support (n = 10). Early access to the APN was at the family meeting and later at 3 months after diagnosis. Data included demographic information and completion by phone interview at 3 months postdiagnosis of a questionnaire on the usefulness of the assessment and parent's desire or ability to obtain recommended services.

Results: Demographically, the groups were not different. Children were most frequently male, white, non-Hispanic, and non-Medicaid with a mean age of 35 months. In comparison with the non-Medicaid groups, the Medicaid groups more often endorsed the 9 questions on the usefulness of the assessment as being “A Great Deal” useful (p = .022). Groups with early support were more successful in scheduling or completing appointments for recommended services overall including medical, educational, therapeutic, and parent resource appointments (p = .031). Barriers to services or resources were reported by 35.9%.

Conclusion: Parents of young children with Medicaid with a recent diagnosis of ASD found the assessment “very useful” compared with non-Medicaid group. The groups with immediate access to an APN were more successful with scheduling and completing appointments.

Division of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics and Psychology, Department of Pediatrics, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH.

Address for reprints: Nancy J. Roizen, MD, 10524 Euclid Avenue, Suite 3150, Cleveland, OH 44122; e-mail:

Disclosure: The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Received September , 2015

Accepted December , 2015

Copyright © 2016 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.