Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

MS Human Genetics


Human Genetics Graduate Program


Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a group of neurodevelopmental disorders characterized by social communication deficits and repetitive behaviors. A diagnosis of ASD can be made by various healthcare professionals, including developmental pediatricians, child neurologists, child psychiatrists, and child psychologists. As there is a significant genetic component to ASD, many professional organizations recommend that individuals diagnosed with ASD undergo some form of genetic testing; notably, psychological organizations do not make any such recommendation. Nevertheless, current literature has shown that most patients are not referred to genetics. This study compared the utilization of genetic professionals by physicians and psychologists. It was hypothesized that the rate of referrals to a genetics provider would be dependent on the type of professional training; we compared physicians, who attended medical school, and psychologists, who obtained a doctorate in psychology. A Fisher’s exact test was performed to compare the rate of referral of physicians versus psychologists. It was found to be statistically significant (p < 0.05), with a higher rate of referral among physicians, suggesting that greater focus on the genetics of ASD in psychology doctoral programs and the creation of standardized genetic testing guidelines following a diagnosis of ASD should increase the rate of referrals to genetics.