A Window into the Use of Post-diagnostic Services for Autism and Parents’ Perspective on the Quality of Early Childhood Services Trajectory in a Canadian Province

Mélina Rivard, Catherine Mello, Shaneha Patel, Marjorie Morin, Diane Morin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The pathway for post-diagnostic services for autism tends to be complex, heterogeneous, and fraught with delays. This situation has repercussions for families’ experience with care systems, the quality of early interventions, and family adjustment. To date, studies of parents’ point of view on autism services have predominantly focused on the diagnostic phase of the services trajectory. The goal of the present study was to investigate the perspective of parents on autism early childhood services within a public healthcare and social services system in a Canadian province (Québec). Participants were 91 parents who completed a structured framework for the evaluation of the quality of services trajectories, the Evaluation of the services Trajectory in Autism by Parents (ETAP; Mello et al., in Research in Developmental Disabilities 133, 2023). Approximately three-quarters of families received interim services (e.g., punctual speech therapy interventions) for which they had overall neutral-to-positive appraisals but viewed as having comparably low validity and continuity. Although all children diagnosed with autism are entitled to receive early behavioral intervention (EBI) dispensed by the public health and social services system, approximately a quarter of families did not receive this service. Families who received EBI evaluated this service positively on all ETAP dimensions. The empathy (i.e., parent-provider relationships) dimension was rated highest for both interim and EBI services. Some systemic, family, and child-related factors were associated with the perceived quality of services for both interim and early childhood services. Our results emphasize the need for services for children and families as soon as possible, both during assessment and after diagnosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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