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Wednesday, April 5, 2023


In The Politics of Autism, I write about the everyday struggles facing autistic people and their families.

Elise Person at WHP-TV, Harrisburg, PA:
Medical Director at Meliora Health, Dr. Cheryl Tierney, said as autism becomes more common, wait times to see a specialist to diagnose a child continue to get longer.

She said they are working to combat long wait times by meeting with diagnosing children with autism at the virtual level.

“We can get children in for a comprehensive multidisciplinary assessment in about two weeks,” Tierney said.

According to Tierney, the average wait time across the county to get a child seen by a specialist for a diagnosis can range between six and 18 months.

She said in the state of Pennsylvania, most specialized interventions needed for children with autism can not be administered until a child is diagnosed.

Central Pennsylvanian mother, Lobna said she was on a waiting list for nearly a year until she was able to get her then two-year-old seen by a specialist and diagnosed with autism.

“Every day is just a day lost,” Lobna said. “As far as my experience, it was just completely, just disheartening,” Lobna said.

 Sam Smink at WFSB-TV in Connecticut:

A Suffield family is asking the state to invest more money in a program that is supposed to provide services for those with autism.

As the I-Team found, the waitlist is thousands of people long, but only a small number are receiving help.

33-year-old Brendan Kearney isn’t just into movies and video games, his dad John Kearney says he’s also really good at computers.

”Whenever we have a problem with our PCs here in the house, it’s always Brendan! 99 times out of 100 he solves the problem,” says Kearney.

Brendan has autism, and lives with his parents.

Despite challenges, Kearney has held several jobs through the years.

Still life hasn’t always been kind.

”It’s not been easy for him. That’s for sure,” says Kearney.

To help make the future easier for Brendan, Kearney signed him up for Connecticut’s Medicaid Autism Lifespan Waiver Program in February.

The program provides support and services to adults with autism who have an IQ over 70, up to $50,000 a person depending on their needs.  

Brendan got in but was immediately put on a waitlist. 

“I was told there was a waitlist, and the waitlist was on the order of more than 10 years,” says Kearney.

According to data the I-Team requested from the Department of Social Services, there are 2,005 individuals on the waitlist.

Right now, there are just 219 people receiving services under the program: 11%.