Inpatient Psychiatric Treatment of Serious Behavioral Problems in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD): Specialized Versus General Inpatient Units [2018]

Psychiatric hospitalization of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is common, but there is little comparative information available on different psychiatric hospital treatment models. Children with ASD ages 4–20 were enrolled upon admission to either a specialized (N = 53) or a general child psychiatric unit (N = 27). Caregivers completed the Aberrant Behavioral Checklist-Irritability Sub-scale (ABC-I) at admission, discharge, and 2 months post-discharge and reported information on crisis service utilization 2 months post-discharge. Children treated in the specialized unit had lower ABC-I scores at discharge and 2 months post-discharge (F = 8.98, p = 0.003) and were significantly less likely to experience an ER visit within 2 months post-discharge (X2 = 5.51, p = 0.019). Specialized inpatient units may be more effective for children with ASD in need of psychiatric hospitalization.

Briana J. Taylor, Kevin B. Sanders, Marie Kyle, Kahsi A. Pedersen, Jeremy Veenstra-Vanderweele, Matthew Siegel
Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, March 2019, Volume 49, Issue 3