Did you know that approximately one in thirty-six children have autism spectrum disorder (ASD)? Had it not been reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we wouldn’t have believed it either.
Parental experiences of raising an autistic child vary from person to person. While marital and occupational status, social support, and socioeconomic conditions play a role, one thing is obvious: raising a child with autism in resource-poor countries is complex.
Lack of educational services, lack of highly qualified practitioners, and limited parental awareness are why raising an autistic child is tough in low-income countries.
Over the years, technological advancements have led to the rise of mental health practice management software offering telehealth. This can bridge gaps in access to care. Wondering how? Autistic children and their parents can use telehealth for diagnosis, treatment, therapy, and caregiver education.
Let us explain how you can use telehealth practice to equip parents with skills to raise autistic children.
Life Experience of Parents Raising Children With Autism
Rarely is a parent’s experience of caring for autistic children addressed in middle or low-income households. However, unraveling parents’ experiences caring for an autistic child is critical. That’s because they have a profound role in the upbringing of their autistic child.
Several researchers assert that despair and sadness accompany the autism diagnostic process in parents. Even after receiving a diagnosis of autism in their children, parents go through an emotional rollercoaster. Many regard that feeling as similar to grief, whereby they fear losing their child.
parents also experience autism stigma, so many are forced to stay home. Negative social stereotypes regarding disability and mental illness cause autism stigma. Many parents also feel embarrassed about their child’s behavior when they meet other relatives.
The financial burden is also a challenge for parents to raise autistic children. Quite a few parents reported that they had to stop their child’s behavior and speech therapy due to financial issues.
In a nutshell, telehealth can equip parents with the knowledge and skills that will help them tackle their autistic children.
Bridging Care Gaps: Using Telehealth to Provide Care for Children With Autism
Diagnosing autism generally involves direct observation of the child, interviews with parents, and reports from daycares, doctors, and teachers. Yet, access to qualified therapists, treatments, and services isn’t equally provided nationwide. That is where telehealth comes into the picture.
Let’s discuss how telehealth can provide timely care for children with autism.
Screening and Early Diagnosis
Autism can be diagnosed as early as 18 months. Thorough and rapid diagnosis can introduce helpful therapies to help children improve their autistic behavior.
Telehealth in mental health practice management software can supplement the diagnostic process and ensure accurate and early diagnosis. Recent studies compared telehealth diagnostic accuracy with in-person evaluation. It was found that remote practitioners identified all children that received an autism diagnosis.
Parent Coaching and Support
In many areas of the country, parents do not have access to resources to care for their children with autism. Children with autism often throw tantrums, show aggression or experience other behavioral problems.
Clinicians can use mental health practice management software and teach parents various behavioral strategies, including compliance training, reinforcement, and antecedent management. These strategies will help parents correct behavioral issues (non-compliance, aggression, and tantrums) and skilled deficits.
In this context, Pysquel states that telehealth software is intuitive and easy to use. In such software, mental health professionals can document their patients’ progress and customize plans accordingly. Later, they can be accessed by parents.
Telehealth isn’t the only feature offered by mental health practice management software. Instead, they allow clinicians to centralize patients’ data, schedule appointments, handle billing, submit insurance claims, etc.
Expanding Access to ABA Therapy through Parent Training
ABA, or applied behavior therapy, is among the best practice and common therapy modalities for autistic children. This therapy focuses on teaching everyday life skills, like making eye contact, brushing teeth, and dealing with conflict.
The best thing about ABA therapy is that it’s customizable according to the needs of each autistic child.
Like other aspects of healthcare, applied behavioral therapy is also inaccessible in underserved or rural areas. The shortage of licensed therapists in remote locations further worsens the situation. This dearth is a challenge that telehealth can fix.
Using telehealth, parents can learn how to deliver quality ABA therapy to their autistic children. One study revealed that telehealth platforms proved favorable to training parents on reducing their child’s problematic behaviors.
Improving Care Access for Autism Patients
Autism is a lifelong neurodevelopmental disorder that isn’t uncommon among children. Despite being the third most common developmental disorder, there is still so much stigma around autism. Further, the shortage of therapists has made it relatively impossible for many parents to access care and support.
Mental health practice management software’s telehealth can fill the missing piece of the puzzle. Through telehealth, therapists can arm parents with the skills needed to raise a child with autism and empower them to provide their autistic children with the care and attention they deserve.