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Calls to Action

Survey Results Demonstrate Physicians' Perspectives on Primary Care for Children with Autism

March 08, 2009

Families affected by autism have struggled with a lack of coordinated medical care for their children and have often expressed frustration with physicians' lack of knowledge about the disorder. The results of a survey study released in the March issue of Pediatrics revealed that primary care physicians also believe there is a great need to improve primary care for children with autism and to provide more education for physicians in how to provide that care.

The study, supported in part by Autism Speaks, surveyed 3100 pediatricians and family physicians about their perspectives on caring for children with autism.

Physicians reported lower self-perceived competency in their abilities to manage care for children with autism relative to other disorders. Compared to other developmental and chronic disorders, the physicians perceived that there were greater barriers to care for children with autism in care coordination, reimbursement and physician education. Physicians also identified family skepticism to traditional medicine and the prevalent use of complimentary and alternative treatments as barriers to care and stated a desire for more CAM education. The need for more education, clear practice guidelines and models of care was a key conclusion of the study.

The mission of Autism Speaks' Autism Treatment Network (ATN) is to address the critical issues outlined in this paper within a multidisciplinary care model. ATN is a collaboration of medical centers working to improve medical care for children with autism and through recent funding from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) is working closely with the National Initiative for Children's Healthcare Quality to develop standard practice guidelines for physicians working with children with ASD.

Read the study abstract here.

For more information on the ATN, click here.