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Preschoolers' Autism Disrupts Parental Employment

Child-care arrangements often force parents to quit or not take jobs, change current jobs

MONDAY, July 7 (HealthDay News) -- Almost all parents of preschool-aged children with autism spectrum disorder rely on a variety of child-care services, and these arrangements are often associated with disruptions in parental employment, according to a report published in the July issue of Pediatrics.

Guillermo Montes, Ph.D., of the University of Rochester in Rochester, N.Y., and a colleague analyzed survey data from parents of 16,282 preschool-aged children, including parents of 82 children with autism spectrum disorder and an additional 1,955 children who were considered high risk.

The researchers found that 97 percent of children with diagnosed autism spectrum disorder received care in multiple community settings, such as preschool and Head Start. They also found that parents of diagnosed or at-risk children were significantly more likely to report that they had quit a job, not taken a job, or greatly changed a job in the previous year because of child care problems (39 percent and 16 percent, respectively) compared to parents of developmentally normal children (9 percent). Their multivariate analyses showed that families of diagnosed children were seven times more likely than other families to report that child care problems affected their employment, an effect which was three times larger than the effect of poverty.

"These findings warrant evaluation of the community resources available to families with children with special needs," the authors conclude.

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