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Differential access to neuropsychological evaluation in children with perinatal complications or autism spectrum disorder: Impact of sociodemographic factors. Clin Neuropsychol 2021 Jul;35(5):988-1008



Pubmed ID




Scopus ID

2-s2.0-85094906063   2 Citations


Early childhood evaluation can identify deficits related to disruptions in early brain development and facilitate interventions. Access to care may differ by race/ethnicity or socioeconomic status. We explored neuropsychological evaluation access patterns and examined potential sociodemographic disparities in evaluation timing. Method: Participants were 213 children (age: M = 46.4 months, SD = 15.3 months) with a history of disrupted neural development due to perinatal complications (PC; n = 109) or autism spectrum disorder (ASD; n = 104). We used chi square tests of independence and one-way ANOVAs to compare groups on sociodemographics, referral sources, and cognition. Clinical sample means for cognitive and adaptive variables were compared to normative means to determine the presence of developmental delays. Differences in age at evaluation by race/ethnicity, caregiver education, and referral source, accounting for cognition, were explored with ANCOVAs. Results: The ASD group included significantly more White children and the PC group relatively more Black/African Americans. Children with ASD were referred by primary care physicians and caregivers/school staff; those with PC were referred by other medical providers. All participants performed more poorly than expected across all intellectual and adaptive domains, with greater delays in the ASD group. Children of caregivers with lower education were evaluated earlier in the PC group. For ASD, participants referred by primary care physicians were evaluated earlier. Conclusions: Children with PC and ASD exhibit cognitive delays and require neuropsychological evaluation. Disparities in access to care exist, particularly for minority children with ASD. Ways to promote equal access are discussed.

Author List

Miller LE, Kaseda ET, Koop JI, Mau KA, Heffelfinger AK


Amy Heffelfinger PhD Professor in the Neurology department at Medical College of Wisconsin
Jennifer I. Koop Olsta PhD Professor in the Neurology department at Medical College of Wisconsin
Lauren E. Miller PhD Assistant Professor in the Neurology department at Medical College of Wisconsin

MESH terms used to index this publication - Major topics in bold

Autism Spectrum Disorder
Child, Preschool
Neuropsychological Tests
Referral and Consultation