206857 Self-care behaviors in children with Autism Spectrum Disorders in Alabama

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Beverly A. Mulvihill, PhD , Department of Health Care Organization and Policy, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL
Brian F. Geiger, EdD , School of Education/ Department of Human Studies, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL
Marcia O'Neal, PhD , College of Arts and Sciences/School of Education, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL
Group Name Alabama Autism Collaborative Group , Department of Maternal and Child Health, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL

Purpose: To determine self-care functioning in children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Objectives: 1) To describe the characteristics of children with ASD in Alabama; and 2) To examine associations between child age and ability to perform typical activities of daily living (ADL).

Methods: Written and online questionnaire data were available from a self-selected group of 270 parents or other caregivers of children with ASD. We limited the analysis to individuals under 21 years (n=240). We examined group characteristics and used chi-square statistics to examine associations between child age and self-care behaviors as measured by respondent-reported ADL levels.

Results: Only 26% reported incomes of $40,000 or less. About 1/3 self-identified as being a member of a minority group. The average child age was 10.4 years. Individuals with ASD in families with lower incomes received their diagnosis at a later age. Not unexpectedly, differences among the age groups were highly significant (p<0.001) for each of the ADLs. However, most of these basic skills of self-feeding, dressing, bathing and toileting are acquired by the general population by 5 years of age or less. In this population, many children 6 years and older still required help or had not achieved the skill (8% for feeding, almost 1/3 for toileting, more than 1/3 for dressing, and more than half for bathing).

Conclusions: Even among a relatively high income group of families, their family members with ASD remain challenged even with respect to the most basic skills of daily living.

Learning Objectives:
Describe characteristics of a group of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders Compare Activity of Daily Living skills of target group to accepted norms

Keywords: Children With Special Needs, Family/Consumer Perspective

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: PhD in Child Development and extensive research in issues for children and families with special needs
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.