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.
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.
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%.
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.