Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Educational, School, and Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. H. Thompson Prout

Second Advisor

Dr. Lisa A. Ruble


Much research and media attention in recent years has focused on Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), a pervasive developmental disorder that impacts children in multiple areas of their lives. Early identification and intervention, as well as access to mental health, behavioral, and pediatric services for this population are crucial to their later outcomes and quality of life (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2001; Blane & Borden, 2008; Jacobson & Mulick, 2000; Rogers & Vismara, 2008). Unfortunately, research suggests that access to educational services may be complicated for individuals living in rural areas (Applequist, 2009; Collins et al., 2005, Ludlow, Conner, & Schechter 2005; Pennington, Horn & Berrong, 2009). Therefore, the purpose of this project was to investigate education services for children with ASD in rural areas.

Education services were assessed via a survey of 42 parents of children with ASD and a review of educational records. Contrary to previous research, results from this study indicated that parents in more rural areas reported more satisfaction with educational counseling services and a lower age of diagnosis when compared to parents in more urban areas. Similarly, parents in more rural areas reported a higher number of services and more frequent educational counseling services (i.e., more direct service hours) compared to parents in more urban areas. Results of this study were interpreted from an adapted version of Andersen’s Behavioral Model of Access to Care. Possible explanations for these findings, as well as limitations, directions for future research, and implications are discussed.