Disparities in Special Education Services

Understanding the impact of disparity in special education services for underrepresented groups with ASD

Early intervention and continuity of care is critical for individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Yet, profound inequity exists in early screening and access to services for underresourced individuals with ASD across the lifespan.

This study funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Maternal and Child Health (R41MC33087) aims to (1) characterize youth-level disparities (i.e., gender, language, ethnicity) and possible moderators of sociodemographic disparity (i.e., family socioeconomic status, neighborhood SES) in special education accommodations and supportive services among youth with ASD and (2) identify optimal pathways of special education services and accommodations for students with ASD from middle school through high school to inform benchmarks for initial successful transition to adulthood. 

This longitudinal study utilizes one of the largest and most diverse special education samples of youth with ASD to be examined thus far. The findings have the potential to inform the educational sector on a large scale, specifically guiding policy and the allocation of school services to address sociodemographic disparities for under-resourced and/or underrepresented students with ASD.