Autism evaluation wait times concern parents

2 years 3 months 4 weeks ago Thursday, February 18 2016 Feb 18, 2016 Thursday, February 18, 2016 7:42:00 PM CST February 18, 2016 in News
By: Brittany Pieper, KOMU 8 Anchor
loading

COLUMBIA - One in 68 kids has an autism spectrum disorder, according to the Centers for Disease Control. In mid-Missouri, the Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders has seen the number of clinical visits per year jump from 500 in 2005 to 10,000 in 2015. Despite having so many more visits, it can still take months for a parent to get his or her child in for an evaluation at the center.

For parents like Tara Arnett, the waiting can be difficult, and there are lots of questions.
    
"How do we get him evaluated?" she asked when her pediatrician told her she should have her son tested for autism. "How do we get him enrolled in this? How do we start this therapy? How do we pay for it?"

Dr. Kristin Sohl said the average wait time at the Thompson Center is often 8-12 months, which is in line with the national average but still seems long to many parents.
    
"You've got all these people wanting evaluations, and you have so few people who can do it. That's where the wait list comes from," Sohl said. "It makes me really sad that we have all these families waiting for an answer. I can only imagine how difficult that is."
    
Sohl said in a lot of ways, Missouri is doing well compared to other states. Gov. Jay Nixon recently announced millions of dollars will go toward autism services in the 2017 budget. However, she said that alone won't fix the wait list problem.
    
"I think you could give gobs and gobs of money, and still we may be in the same situation because more people keep coming," Sohl said.
    
She went on to say there are not enough doctors qualified to evaluate and give an autism diagnosis to meet the demand, which is partly because, compared to other specialties, it doesn't pay well.

While the money from the state helps provide essential services, Sohl said there's a big gap between what an evaluation costs and what insurance pays for it. That makes it hard to recruit doctors and in turn, keeps the wait list long. She believes fixing this issue would require changing the healthcare reimbursement system.

There are things she said parents can do while they wait that can make a big difference, including starting speech or occupational therapy. She also recommended parents who think their child might have autism make an appointment with First Steps or their local school district to discuss what services are availible to kids with developmental differences. It also could be helpful to treat physical symptoms like sleep or stomach problems as they come up.
    
"A lot of these things can be managed just like any other kid and certainly can make the quality of life for families much better if those are tackled while you wait," Sohl said.
    
Sohl doesn't think most families realize how much they can do before they get an official diagnosis.

Arnett didn't and said the process was stressful, but she offered this advice to parents starting the autism screening process, "Sometimes it's hard to go ahead and start services when they're young because you're waiting. You think something is going to change, something is going to happen, and then it doesn't. So it's very important to start that process as early as you can if you or your pediatrician notices there's something not typical."

Sohl said she likes to see kids with potential autism concerns as early as possible, ideally before age 3.

Some possible signs she gave that a child might have autism included a child with delayed social skills, a child who doesn't master pointing to direct people's attention or a child who doesn't make eye contact.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommended pediatricians screen all children for autism at their 18 and 24 month check-ups. Sohl said she thinks working with primary care providers to better recognize what signs point to autism and which do not could also decrease the number of referrals, and help make the wait list shorter.

More News

Grid
List
COLUMBIA - Missouri is the first and only state to define "meat" as exclusively animal product. The Missouri General... More >>
5 hours ago Sunday, June 17 2018 Jun 17, 2018 Sunday, June 17, 2018 4:55:00 PM CDT June 17, 2018 in News
ROCHEPORT - The Sunny Oaks Charity Horse Show brought about 20 riders out Sunday afternoon to compete for ribbons and... More >>
7 hours ago Sunday, June 17 2018 Jun 17, 2018 Sunday, June 17, 2018 3:36:00 PM CDT June 17, 2018 in News
SPRINGFIELD - A Hickman High School graduate has surrounded herself with Kewpies. The dolls' trademark round eyes watch happily from... More >>
14 hours ago Sunday, June 17 2018 Jun 17, 2018 Sunday, June 17, 2018 8:05:00 AM CDT June 17, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Hundreds of people impacted by cancer gathered together on a track Saturday in support of cancer fighters and... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, June 16 2018 Jun 16, 2018 Saturday, June 16, 2018 10:11:00 PM CDT June 16, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - A podiatrist with the Jefferson City Medical Group is the first doctor in Missouri to use a... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, June 16 2018 Jun 16, 2018 Saturday, June 16, 2018 6:42:00 PM CDT June 16, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - At "Shred Fest," a local skateboarding competition, keeping participants safe was a top concern. An organization provided free... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, June 16 2018 Jun 16, 2018 Saturday, June 16, 2018 6:18:00 PM CDT June 16, 2018 in News
WASHINGTON, D.C. (CNN) - President Donald Trump suggested Saturday that he is using his administration's separation of families at the... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, June 16 2018 Jun 16, 2018 Saturday, June 16, 2018 3:14:00 PM CDT June 16, 2018 in News
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A second sheriff's deputy died early Saturday from injuries suffered when an inmate... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, June 16 2018 Jun 16, 2018 Saturday, June 16, 2018 6:45:00 AM CDT June 16, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - The Juneteenth Heritage Festival is keeping the history of Juneteenth alive in mid-Missouri. Juneteenth is a... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, June 16 2018 Jun 16, 2018 Saturday, June 16, 2018 4:29:00 AM CDT June 16, 2018 in News
BOONE COUNTY - A death, a huge cache of weapons and a suspect who's gun jammed as he was aiming... More >>
2 days ago Friday, June 15 2018 Jun 15, 2018 Friday, June 15, 2018 8:06:00 PM CDT June 15, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Boone County's Republican clerk and the Democrat running against him have differing opinions over voter fraud. Challenger... More >>
2 days ago Friday, June 15 2018 Jun 15, 2018 Friday, June 15, 2018 6:59:00 PM CDT June 15, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Columbia’s City Channel was recently recognized for creative excellence in production by The Telly Awards Judging Council. Producers... More >>
2 days ago Friday, June 15 2018 Jun 15, 2018 Friday, June 15, 2018 6:43:00 PM CDT June 15, 2018 in News
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — One Wyandotte County sheriff's deputy is dead and one is in critical condition after... More >>
2 days ago Friday, June 15 2018 Jun 15, 2018 Friday, June 15, 2018 6:04:00 PM CDT June 15, 2018 in News
MILLER COUNTY- Investigators say the human remains they found in Miller County on Monday are from a male from the... More >>
2 days ago Friday, June 15 2018 Jun 15, 2018 Friday, June 15, 2018 4:48:00 PM CDT June 15, 2018 in News
FULTON - The two caregivers responsible for Carl DeBrodie will remain in jail after Judge Kevin Crane denied their bond... More >>
2 days ago Friday, June 15 2018 Jun 15, 2018 Friday, June 15, 2018 3:53:00 PM CDT June 15, 2018 in Top Stories
COLUMBIA - If a few more details with the Federal Highway Administration are worked out, MoDOT plans to close the... More >>
2 days ago Friday, June 15 2018 Jun 15, 2018 Friday, June 15, 2018 3:33:00 PM CDT June 15, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY — The Missouri Department of Economic Development announced on Friday five companies are expanding in Missouri with plans... More >>
2 days ago Friday, June 15 2018 Jun 15, 2018 Friday, June 15, 2018 3:30:00 PM CDT June 15, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - APLEX, Inc., the contractor of the city’s Bike Boulevard Project, plans to close the entrance to Alexander... More >>
2 days ago Friday, June 15 2018 Jun 15, 2018 Friday, June 15, 2018 2:54:00 PM CDT June 15, 2018 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 83°
11pm 83°
12am 81°
1am 81°
2am 80°