Parents have to place a tremendous amount of trust in whomever they select as their child’s pediatrician. Researchers found that parents of kids with autism often don’t trust their pediatricians, and, that some pediatricians doubt their own knowledge about treating autism.
A new study validates what previous studies have found. It also backs up what many parents of children who have autism feel about their pediatricians. There is a certain amount of distrust happening.
The research involved interviews with 20 parents who had children between the ages of three to five. The children had an autism spectrum disorder. It also included interviews with 20 pediatricians that are affiliated with the Center for Autism Research at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
The parents said that they don’t feel as though they can ask their pediatricians for advice on treatments. Parents go to their pediatricians for a referral to a specialist or to get their child involved with community resources. The parents may have wanted advice and information about different treatment options for autism, but, their pediatricians were not giving them the information they were seeking. This leaves parents to sort through all of that themselves.
The pediatricians felt that they did not have the knowledge to treat children who have autism. They also noted that they didn’t really have the time to devote to treating kids who have an autism spectrum disorder. They said they felt uncomfortable suggesting alternative treatment options to parents.
They were getting paid one amount for an appointment. The pediatricians were not making any additional money for the lengthier appointments that can be required with children who have autism. The pediatricians also understood that patients who have autism often require the pediatrician to manage a much more complex care situation that is required for kids who do not have autism.
How can this problem in communication be solved? The pediatricians want their patients to have what is called a “medical home”. A medical home is a system that is set up to manage all aspects of a child’s health care. It makes reports from several doctors and specialists available to the group, and it can help parents to integrate autism treatment with their child’s other developmental and health needs.
The parents want the pediatricians to be less skeptical of alternative forms of treatment. The perception that the doctor doesn’t approve of these forms of treatment leads many parents to not bring it up during an appointment. The parents also want the pediatricians to be more supportive in helping them to deal with the stress that is involved with parenting a child who has autism. They don’t want to be referred to additional sources in order to get that support.
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