Many parents of children with an autism spectrum disorder don't feel they can turn to their pediatricians for advice on treatments, a new study finds.Although the study involves a very small sample, its findings track with firsthand experience as well as conversations with many other autism parents. Pediatricians often miss early signs of autism: many parents get the diagnosis only after months of false reassurances ("Don't worry: boys are late talkers.") In turn, this problem may undermine their faith in the medical and scientific establishment.
Likewise, many pediatricians don't think they have the knowledge -- or time -- to devote to children with autism, with some citing reimbursement policies that don't allow for payment for lengthier appointments or for managing complex cases.
The pediatricians interviewed for the study also said they felt especially uncomfortable advising parents on alternative therapies, which are commonly used by families with autistic children.
"Most parents are not going to pediatricians with questions about treatments. They looked to them for referrals to specialists or to community resources, but they really weren't going to them for guidance about what sort of treatments they should pursue," said study author Dr. Susan Levy, who directs the Regional Autism Center and the Center for Autism Research at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
"And the pediatricians didn't feel informed enough to make those recommendations," she added.
Thursday, May 17, 2012
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