Autism and pediatric practice: toward a medical home.

Division of Neurodevelopmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, Golisano Children's Hospital, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Box 671, 601 Elmwood Avenue, Rochester, NY 14642, USA.
Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders (Impact Factor: 3.06). 03/2012; 42(6):1156-64. DOI: 10.1007/s10803-012-1474-3
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The pediatrician sees a child for 11 well child visits by their third birthday. The provision of continuous primary care supports development of trust with parents, provides opportunity for screening and surveillance of autism spectrum disorders (ASD), allows monitoring the progress of children requiring therapy, and a framework to support and educate families. Families of children with ASD are less likely to report that they receive care in a Medical Home, a practice providing coordinated, accessible, continuous, culturally competent care. They report less access to specialty and family focused care compared to other children with special health care needs. It is a major challenge to identify and effect the solutions necessary to bring Medical Home care to all children with ASD.

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    ABSTRACT: The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between having access to a medical home and unmet needs for specialty care services for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Parents of children enrolled in a national autism registry were invited to complete an online Access to Care Questionnaire. The resulting sample consisted of 371 parents-child dyads. Bivariate and hierarchical regression analyses were conducted to determine whether having a medical home was associated with the number of unmet needs for specialty care. Less than one in five children with ASD had a medical home (18.9 %). Nearly all parents reported that their child had a personal doctor or nurse as well as a usual source of care, but less than one-third received coordinated care (29.9 %) and less than one-half received family-centered care (47.1 %). Many children had unmet needs (63 %), and the highest unmet need was for behavioral therapy. Having a medical home was associated with fewer unmet specialty care needs, even after demographic, child and family characteristics were taken into account. Children with ASD who have a medical home are more likely to have adequate access to needed services. Unfortunately, relatively few children have a medical home that includes family-centered and coordinated care. Enhancements in the delivery of primary care for children with ASD may make a real difference in access to needed specialty care services, potentially improving child and family outcomes.
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