Vision care among school-aged children with autism spectrum disorder in North America: Findings from the Autism Treatment Network Registry Call-Back Study

Olivia J. Lindly, James Chan, Rachel M. Fenning, Justin G. Farmer, Ann M. Neumeyer, Paul Wang, Mark Swanson, Robert A. Parker, Karen A. Kuhlthau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Children with autism spectrum disorder have a high risk of vision problems yet little is known about their vision care. This cross-sectional survey study, therefore, examined vision care among 351 children with autism spectrum disorder ages 6–17 years in the United States or Canada who were enrolled in the Autism Treatment Network Registry. Vision care variables were vision tested with pictures, shapes, or letters in the past 2 years; vision tested by an eye care practitioner (e.g. ophthalmologist, optometrist) in the past 2 years; prescribed corrective eyeglasses; and wore eyeglasses as recommended. Covariates included sociodemographic, child functioning, and family functioning variables. Multivariable models were fit for each vision care variable. Though 78% of children with autism spectrum disorder had their vision tested, only 57% had an eye care practitioner test their vision in the past 2 years. Among the 30% of children with autism spectrum disorder prescribed corrective eyeglasses, 78% wore their eyeglasses as recommended. Multivariable analysis results demonstrated statistically significant differences in vision care among children with autism spectrum disorder by parent education, household income, communication abilities, intellectual functioning, and caregiver strain. Overall, study results suggest many school-aged children with autism spectrum disorder do not receive recommended vision care and highlight potentially modifiable disparities in vision care. Lay Abstract: Children with autism are at high risk for vision problems, which may compound core social and behavioral symptoms if untreated. Despite recommendations for school-aged children with autism to receive routine vision testing by an eye care practitioner (ophthalmologist or optometrist), little is known about their vision care. This study, therefore, examined vision care among 351 children with autism ages 6–17 years in the United States or Canada who were enrolled in the Autism Treatment Network Registry. Parents were surveyed using the following vision care measures: (1) child’s vision was tested with pictures, shapes, or letters in the past 2 years; (2) child’s vision was tested by an eye care practitioner in the past 2 years; (3) child was prescribed corrective eyeglasses; and (4) child wore eyeglasses as recommended. Sociodemographic characteristics such as parent education level, child functioning characteristics such as child communication abilities, and family functioning characteristics such as caregiver strain were also assessed in relationship to vision care. Although 78% of children with autism had their vision tested, only 57% had an eye care practitioner test their vision in the past 2 years. Among the 30% of children with autism prescribed corrective eyeglasses, 78% wore their eyeglasses as recommended. Differences in vision care were additionally found among children with autism by parent education, household income, communication abilities, intellectual functioning, and caregiver strain. Overall, study results suggest many school-aged children with autism do not receive recommended vision care and highlight potentially modifiable disparities in vision care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)840-853
Number of pages14
JournalAutism
Volume25
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2021

Keywords

  • autism spectrum disorder
  • children
  • healthcare disparities
  • preventive care
  • vision tests

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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