In medicine, psychiatry, social work, psychology, teaching -- "You name it, and we don't have people trained at all in any of these fields to work with people with autism spectrum disorder," said Lois Rosenwald, executive director of the Connecticut Autism Spectrum Resource Center.
"You name it, we need it," she said.
Rosenwald said part of the problem stems from a lack of a funding source to cover autism-related services, giving providers little motivation to get trained in addressing autism. There's no dedicated state department that covers it, although the Department of Developmental Services now has a division of autism services.
A recent state law requires health insurance to cover diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorders, but the requirement doesn't apply to self-insured plans that are common at large companies and cover about half of those with private insurance in the state.
Autism often falls through the cracks between mental health and developmental disabilities, some advocates say. Until recently, children with autism only qualified for DDS services if they had an IQ below 70. "Parents would call our office in tears saying, 'You hate to wish this, but I wish my child had an IQ of 69,'" Milstein said. [emphasis and link added]