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Study finds children with autism more likely to face maltreatment

Feb. 15, 2019, 10:29 AM

A recent study by Vanderbilt researchers of 11 counties in Middle Tennessee revealed that children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) were nearly 2.5 times more likely than children without ASD to be reported to the Child Abuse Hotline by the age of 8.

The study, led by researchers from Vanderbilt Kennedy Center’s Treatment and Research Institute for Autism Spectrum Disorders (TRIAD), examined the entire population of Middle Tennessee residents born in 2008 and compared their records through 2016. Using data collected through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network, 387 children out of the population of 24,306 were identified as having a diagnosis of ASD.

More than 17 percent of those identified with ASD had been reported to the Child Abuse Hotline by 2016, compared to 7.4 percent of children without ASD. Additionally, females with ASD were six times more likely to have substantiated allegations of maltreatment than males with ASD.

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