Autism evaluation wait times concern parents

3 years 3 months 14 hours 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
JEFFERSON CITY - The annual Salute to Veterans airshow has been cancelled for 2019, organizers announced Tuesday, due to... More >>
12 minutes ago Tuesday, May 21 2019 May 21, 2019 Tuesday, May 21, 2019 11:48:00 AM CDT May 21, 2019 in News
CHICAGO (AP) — Cholesterol levels in children and teens improved in the latest analysis of U.S. health surveys, yet only... More >>
19 minutes ago Tuesday, May 21 2019 May 21, 2019 Tuesday, May 21, 2019 11:41:20 AM CDT May 21, 2019 in News
LEE'S SUMMIT, Mo. (AP) — A suburban Kansas City school board president has apologized for equating treatment of blondes to... More >>
1 hour ago Tuesday, May 21 2019 May 21, 2019 Tuesday, May 21, 2019 10:22:51 AM CDT May 21, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - The University of Missouri Urgent Care will double its operating space by opening a new building on June... More >>
2 hours ago Tuesday, May 21 2019 May 21, 2019 Tuesday, May 21, 2019 9:44:00 AM CDT May 21, 2019 in News
(CNN) -- Severe thunderstorms are raking and flooding parts of the central US on Tuesday, including in Oklahoma, where a... More >>
3 hours ago Tuesday, May 21 2019 May 21, 2019 Tuesday, May 21, 2019 9:00:00 AM CDT May 21, 2019 in News
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — A federal prosecutor says authorities have recovered only 73 of the 654 guns stolen in 2017... More >>
3 hours ago Tuesday, May 21 2019 May 21, 2019 Tuesday, May 21, 2019 8:52:00 AM CDT May 21, 2019 in News
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Alabama Public Television has chosen not to air an episode of the PBS children's show "Arthur"... More >>
3 hours ago Tuesday, May 21 2019 May 21, 2019 Tuesday, May 21, 2019 8:39:00 AM CDT May 21, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - A former Columbia teacher pleaded guilty Monday to having sexual contact with a student, and will be sentenced... More >>
3 hours ago Tuesday, May 21 2019 May 21, 2019 Tuesday, May 21, 2019 8:26:00 AM CDT May 21, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - A Holts Summit woman pleaded guilty Monday to the 2018 shooting death of David Grant in Callaway County.... More >>
3 hours ago Tuesday, May 21 2019 May 21, 2019 Tuesday, May 21, 2019 8:15:56 AM CDT May 21, 2019 in News
JEFFERSON CITY -- A working smoke detector notified a Jefferson City family of a fire Monday night. They were... More >>
14 hours ago Monday, May 20 2019 May 20, 2019 Monday, May 20, 2019 10:00:00 PM CDT May 20, 2019 in News
JEFFERSON CITY – Governor Mike Parson announced Monday night President Donald Trump approved his request for a major flooding disaster... More >>
16 hours ago Monday, May 20 2019 May 20, 2019 Monday, May 20, 2019 7:13:00 PM CDT May 20, 2019 in Top Stories
FULTON - The Fulton Police Department announced it is cracking down on speeding, especially in school zones. The department... More >>
16 hours ago Monday, May 20 2019 May 20, 2019 Monday, May 20, 2019 7:02:00 PM CDT May 20, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - The Columbia City Council will discuss the future of medical marijuana facilities within city limits at its meeting... More >>
17 hours ago Monday, May 20 2019 May 20, 2019 Monday, May 20, 2019 6:04:00 PM CDT May 20, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - The Boone County Bicentennial Committee wants people to weigh in on the design of a mural to be... More >>
18 hours ago Monday, May 20 2019 May 20, 2019 Monday, May 20, 2019 5:54:00 PM CDT May 20, 2019 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - State Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick has a very unusual commute from the Capitol to his home in southwest... More >>
19 hours ago Monday, May 20 2019 May 20, 2019 Monday, May 20, 2019 4:45:00 PM CDT May 20, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - People who live in the neighborhood where a naked man was entering homes are talking about making the... More >>
19 hours ago Monday, May 20 2019 May 20, 2019 Monday, May 20, 2019 4:01:00 PM CDT May 20, 2019 in Top Stories
COLUMBIA – The University of Missouri Police Department says it wants to make sure people are safe in the worst-case... More >>
20 hours ago Monday, May 20 2019 May 20, 2019 Monday, May 20, 2019 3:36:00 PM CDT May 20, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - Columbia Regional Airport and United Airlines aren't saying much about an unusual, and lucrative, issue Sunday, but passengers... More >>
20 hours ago Monday, May 20 2019 May 20, 2019 Monday, May 20, 2019 3:22:00 PM CDT May 20, 2019 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 56°
12pm 64°
1pm 68°
2pm 70°
3pm 73°