University of Idaho program aims to help autistic children
Autism diagnoses usually mean seeing specialists, but with the ECHO program, U of I is training primary care doctors how to conduct screenings
Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) — During the COVID-19 pandemic, many non-emergency medical appointments were delayed, canceled or just forgotten.
Late diagnoses can have a negative impact on many conditions, some more than others.
“In an autism world, early diagnosis and early intervention are key,” said Certified Behavior Analyst Julie Wittman. “These children have no time to waste.”
Wittman is not only a therapist but also the mother of a daughter on the spectrum.
“We lost access to all of her therapists,” she said.
Telehealth played a role in attempting to bridge the care gap, but some treatments for Autism Spectrum Disorder don’t measure up when done on a screen.
“When you have a child coming in and out of camera range, you lose that very essential part of the diagnosis,” said Dr. Tim Leavell, an internist/pediatrician.
Now, a program at the University of Idaho is trying to create more opportunities for care providers to learn the ways to diagnose and treat Autism.
“(It) aims to connect providers throughout the state, especially those in rural areas or underserved areas, to interdisciplinary experts,” said Katy Palmer with the University of Idaho ECHO Program.
Autism diagnoses usually mean seeing specialists, but with the ECHO program, U of I is training primary care doctors on how to conduct screenings.
“The goal nationally is to screen consistently in primary care practices,” said Dr. Leavell.
For parents like Wittman, adding capable providers can change the lives of children in Idaho.
“It’s critical in expanding the capacity of providers and their comfort level, in diagnosing and identifying children with autism because those children have no time to waste,” said Wittman.
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