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Healthcare dilemma for parents of autistic children

Posted:  Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Parents of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) face an uphill task! Access to affordable and quality healthcare is a top priority for all patients. However, a new report has found that parents of autistic children in the United Kingdom are finding it difficult to avail their children of good healthcare.

The report was authored by Professor Jane Wills of the School of Geography, Queen Mary University of London. A survey carried out in 2014 by the charity Treating Autism, formed the crux of this report. The survey asked parents of children with ASD about the challenges their children faced. They were also given a list of 22 problems and asked to select the problems their child was experiencing. Additionally, they were allowed to add their own comments on the issue.

The report indicated that only 11% of the parents felt that the National Health Service (NHS) professionals understood their concerns about the behaviour and health of their child. The majority of parents (61 %) reported that NHS professionals failed to understand their concerns about the issues ailing their child. Seventy percent of the parents were informed that their autistic child's symptoms did not warrant further investigation and treatment by NHS professionals.

The number of problems faced by the children ranged from five to 22, with 73% of parents picking 16 or more of the options listed. Many parents reported health and behavioural progress in their child with dietary changes. However, the majority of respondents (77 %) did not have access to diet and nutrition services. A similar, dismal scenario was identified for services related to gut problems, sleep difficulties, behavioural challenges, and toileting issues.

Commenting on the report, Anita Kugelstadt, Chair of Trustees from Treating Autism said, "Treating Autism argues that this report highlights how a new outlook is necessary to address these ongoing serious challenges--diagnostic overshadowing as just one example--which significantly reduce quality of life for people with ASD, limit their potential, place great emotional stress and financial strain on the families, and in the long term put a greater financial burden on the tax payer. With a willingness to investigate symptoms thoroughly and pursue accurate diagnoses, and then explore safe and low-cost treatments when appropriate, quality of life for our children could be improved dramatically."

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