Autism and Child Maltreatment: A Population-Based, Record Linkage Methodology for Studying Children Referred to Child Protective Services

Richard C. Urbano*, Richard A. Epstein, Michael J. Cull, Alison Vehorn, Zachary Warren

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

In this article, we demonstrate the use of linked, population-level data to examine how children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are processed by a state protective services agency. Although there is a commonly hypothesized association between a child having a disability and being abused or neglected, few studies exist in this area. Almost totally lacking are well-controlled, whole-population studies of this association for clearly defined subtypes of disability, specifically ASD. In this paper, we describe how secondary data on children with ASD will be linked to other, existing databases to address issues of child abuse and neglect. Our approach is using data from well-documented ASD cases of eight-year-olds in the Tennessee Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network database; these children are then matched to comparison cases in the Tennessee Department of Children's Services (TDCS) database. Our ultimate goal is to create an analysis dataset, using ADDM and TDCS data, to examine potential differences in prevalence rates, dispositions, and correlates of abuse among children with ASD. We show the potential of this approach by presenting preliminary findings from a large, population-level study of children with ASD (N = 358) and matched controls.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-35
Number of pages35
JournalInternational Review of Research in Developmental Disabilities
Volume52
DOIs
StatePublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Abuse
  • Autism
  • Child protective services
  • Maltreatment
  • Population study
  • Record linkage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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