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  • Ellen Cobb

Can Telemedicine Support Children with Autism in Colorado?

Updated: Aug 31, 2022

Studies estimate that one in four children are at risk for developmental delay, while one in 44 are affected by an autism spectrum disorder. As such, telehealth researchers from Missouri aim to help rural and remote primary care providers deliver appropriate healthcare services to children living with autism. On top of providing care, their project also hopes to allow physicians to remotely diagnose or rule out autism in children as early as possible. As we resume activities post-pandemic, the demand for telehealth and telemedicine services is likewise here to stay in Colorado. While people of various backgrounds and conditions are turning to this form of healthcare delivery amidst in-person staff shortages, families may have some doubts as to how effective telemedicine can be in supporting children with autism. To help ease these doubts, we'll discuss some of the things telehealth can help with:

Remote diagnosis of autism in children

Being able to receive health checkups and consultations with a physician without having to leave the house is a convenience that many families have started to indulge in. With the pandemic-enforced lockdowns in 2020, telehealth quickly became a necessity for patients in need, rather than a mere option. For families of children with autism, most importantly, telehealth allows physician consultations without the hassle of leaving home. New parents who are concerned their child may be autistic can also benefit, as the physicians can do remote diagnoses, which will give them a clearer idea. According to a telehealth research published on JMIR, telehealth professionals champion the convenience, flexibility, efficiency, and cost and space savings that telehealth provides. Due to the remote nature of telehealth, professionals are able to spend more time with patients, as well as jointly conduct assessments with colleagues to ensure accuracy of diagnosis. This is important as early diagnosis or ruling out of autism in children will help parents understand more about the personal and educational needs their children may require.

Management of physical and behavioral conditions

Children with autism often struggle with specific physical and behavioral conditions, such as pica, seizure disorders, gastrointestinal disorders, sensory integration dysfunction, and sleep dysfunction. Being in contact with remote physicians allows more consistent monitoring of changes or concerns in a child's condition, as well as more frequent consultations with parents who may need the guidance of a professional. As such, it helps to receive check-ups from physicians offering telemedicine services in Colorado. It's important to note that current laws only allow physicians to treat patients physically located in the state where they are licensed. Whether you live in Denver, Colorado Springs, Aurora, or elsewhere in the state, you're sure to find a physician who can meet your child and your family's needs. Telehealth physicians are highly-trained and well-equipped — both medically and digitally — to deliver services on schedule or in emergencies to autistic children. They are more than qualified to handle and support children on the spectrum, offering appropriate care and treatment without patients having to physically visit hospitals or clinics.

Improved family involvement

Medical appointments can sometimes clash with parents' prior or work commitments. In our post ‘Don't Frame Autism as a Tragedy’, we discussed the importance for family members to fully understand their children's needs and diagnosis. To avoid situations at home from escalating, it's important that family members are as involved as possible with the care and treatment that their children receive, and telehealth could help with that.

With flexible scheduling and the elimination of the need for physical travel, family members may find it easier to be more involved in their children's treatment. Parents are also granted the luxury of getting any questions or misunderstandings about raising children with autism resolved by qualified professionals, who can finetune care and treatment to specific family needs.

Aside from telehealth, parents can further benefit by attending local education events by Autism Vision of CO for autism awareness.

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