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Thursday, January 2, 2014

Florida Bill on Direct Access to Specialists

Parents report that pediatricians frequently overlook or dismiss early signs of autism. In Florida, WGCU radio reports:
A bill filed in Tallahassee would allow parents to take their kids directly to a specialist - without a referral - if they’re showing signs of autism. The bill’s sponsor has already tried five times to get it passed.
The National Institutes of Health defines autism as a range of complex neurodevelopment disorders. They may include repetitive behaviors and trouble communicating. Sen. Jeremy Ring, D-Margate, wants to remove the barriers to a fast diagnosis.
 Belkin Vigil’s son started showing symptoms at 18-months-old, but his pediatrician didn’t see a problem.
"He would not diagnose him," Vigil said. "He said to us - oh, this will go away. He’ll get better soon.”
The doctor didn’t send the family to a specialist, until Vigil demanded a referral a few months later. She founded Autism Connection Miami to help families like hers.
The Florida Current reports:
SB 174 began as CS/SB 308 in the 2009 legislative session. Language dealing with developmental disorders such as cerebral palsy and Down syndrome has been stripped out of it, leaving the ability for a parent who suspects an ASD to take the child to a specialist for testing without an insurance company or health maintenance organization’s OK.
“Pediatricians are not necessarily trained to diagnosis autism,” Ring said earlier this year when discussing the proposal. “I want parents to have direct access to those professionals, the psychiatrists and neurologists; the folks who do diagnosis it.”