Since tomorrow is a Saturday, today will act as the ONE year anniversary of my blog and I have something highly relevant to write about.
Over the course of this past year I have written about many topics. There have been highs, and there have been a couple lows, but through it all my mission has been to paint the picture of life on the spectrum.
There have been several times I have written about the Lunch and Learns I have done with Matt at doctor's offices. I find these to be one of the most important things I do because we can have all the insurance coverage in the world, organizations like TouchPoint can have the most effective therapies known to exist, but it all means nothing if doctors aren't educated on the matter.
The reason why I am so fired up about this right now is that I heard about a parent who went to a leading medical facility in Saint Louis with the “finest” doctors and what she heard has disturbed me. The quotes are as follows:
Your son is too young to have autism (he's age 3)
Your child can't have autism, see, he just made eye contact.
Maybe it's just a seizure disorder
Have you tried putting your child in a sleep study?
The ADOS? Oh, a ‘psychologist’ completed that.
If a doctor at a top facility is playing this game, think of how many doctors in the city of Saint Louis, the state of Missouri, the country, and the world are. If doctors are not willing to believe that autism could be what the diagnosis is, some families may never find the right treatments, or perhaps find them too late. There is always hope, but all the research out there shows that the earlier a child receives therapy the chances of a faster rate of growth increase greatly.
Because there is the chance of hope with early diagnosis, I am sickened by a story like this. If autism was new to the world of doctors, say 50 years ago, I could see why there would be ignorance. Am I saying this was good? No. However, with the rates of autism spectrum disorders today hovering around 1 in 100, there is no excuse, none whatsoever, that a doctor should be playing the, "there's no way it's autism because..." game.
Are you as angry as I am? I am furious! Why? If some doctors are playing this ignorance game, there are families with children on the spectrum who may not get the much needed answers until later in life, answers that will lead to early intervention and growth.
I was diagnosed at age 20 (2003), but that truly couldn't be helped because Asperger Syndrome wasn't put in the DSM until 1994. It's not yesterday anymore. It is 2011 and doctors MUST know about the spectrum. It exists and a child may look you in the eye; a child may be able to speak; a child may be able to catch a ball, and just because they can do any of these things, contrary to some doctors’ beliefs, doesn't mean it isn't autism.
The mission has not changed. This is truly a race to raise as much awareness and understanding as possible; to hopefully, somehow, get these doctors to understand. They have to understand! To be perfectly honest I have tears in my eye right now thinking about how many times this autism denial happens. If the family buys into that, even if they know it is autism, then so much time is wasted. The year is 2011 and aren't we more educated than we were 50 years ago? I would like to think so, but if a doctor at a leading institution is saying this than I have to ask, are we really? One case of this is too much. One case of this could set a family back for many years when the answer was there all along. So again, since doctors have the ability to know, are we really ahead of where we used to be?