By Diane Purse, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
Autism spectrum disorder occurs in 1 in 59 children in our country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Autism Speaks is an online resource center for parents and providers and lists the following behavior as visible as early as 1 year of age: no babbling or back-and-forth gestures such as pointing, waving or eye contact. At the age of 2 years, a child with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may show no significant increase in number of words spoken or a lack of communication skills.
Mountain Family Health Centers sees many children brought by parents concerned about a delay in their child’s development. If a Mountain Family provider also sees the same behavior in the child, we refer the family for an evaluation with developmental specialists at Children’s Hospital Colorado in Denver. The waiting list for that evaluation is currently 16 months.
Physician Assistant Corrine Johnson and I have recently become part of a program to assist in decreasing the wait time for an evaluation.
Corrinne and I received specialized training from the Developmental Pediatrics department with Children’s Hospital Colorado, along with ten other rural providers across the state. In November 2018, we met with physicians, psychologists, and therapists to assist in diagnosing early childhood developmental disorders, specifically autism spectrum disorder for children 3 years and younger.
We have an online forum that we attend every two weeks, where we present videos of evaluation sessions to the Children’s Hospital Developmental Pediatrics team, and our colleagues around the state, to discuss next steps. It is becoming a valuable resource for our community, and aids in earlier diagnosis and interventions.
Corrinne and I are able to do a screening for children whose parents or providers have concerns regarding their child’s development and particularly concerns with ASD behaviors. I am based at the Edwards health center and Corrinne is located at our Rifle health center, so we are able to reach patients in both Eagle and Garfield counties, as well as patients driving from elsewhere in the Mountain Family service area.
To learn more, please call Mountain Family Health Centers at 970-945-2840 and ask about having your child evaluated by our team.