To assess how clinical services are accessed and utilized by young children with suspected autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and identifying factors that prevent the early identification of developmental concerns and diagnosis.
This retrospective study examined the sociodemographic and clinical characteristics of a convenience sample of children diagnosed with ASD at the Center for Autism Research, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia between 2016 and 2018. The characteristics of ASD assessment and intervention service use were examined. Additionally, we examined the association between sociodemographic, clinical, and service use variables with the child’s age at the time of the parent’s initial concern and first ASD diagnosis, and the time from first concern to diagnosis.
Out of 127 cases, 67 were diagnosed with ASD (mean: 46.88 months, SD: 18.88, median: 42.00, range, 19-93). Most ASD cases had one previous assessment (n=28, 41.8%). Higher sibling numbers were associated with a later age of first concern (=0.0278). Applied behavior analysis service utilization was associated with later age of first ASD diagnosis (=0.0336) and longer time to ASD diagnosis (=0.0301).
Larger sample size is needed to further investigate whether these findings are representative of the national experience. Community-based intervention outcome studies should assess the quality of services being provided.

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