Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts in Psychology


Psychological Science


Quetsch, Lauren

Committee Member/Reader

Kilmer, Michele

Committee Member/Second Reader

Ham, Lindsay

Committee Member/Third Reader

D'Eugenio, Daniela


Background: Families with autistic youth utilize emergency services (e.g., police, emergency department) at greater rates than neurotypical peers. While research has recently explored this phenomenon, unknowns remain in how pharmaceutical, therapeutic, family (e.g., caregiver strain), and child factors (concurrent challenging behaviors) may influence the likelihood of this population resorting to emergency care. Method: The current study recruited caregivers (N = 55) of youth with autism and co-occurring challenging behaviors (ages 2 – 22) to complete an online survey regarding their use of emergency services, child medication and therapy, and caregiver strain. Caregivers were compensated for their time. Results: Outcomes revealed no significant relations between medication and emergency service use. Most caregivers reported pursuing treatment for disruptive behaviors and that those services (e.g., therapies, school services) were accessible and affordable in their community; however, no significant relation to emergency service use was found. Lastly, no association was found between caregiver strain and endorsement of emergency service use. Conclusions: Emergency services are by definition public organizations that respond to and deal with emergencies. Further work should be done to understand why families of autistic youth experience higher rates of interpreted emergencies. Furthermore, future studies may benefit from qualitative explorations of family challenges and supports.


Youth with autism, Emergency service use, Health service use