As the father of an autistic son, Tom Butler says that a new virtual clinic—dedicated to diagnosing children with autistic disorders—could prove valuable for frustrated parents.
“There’s something to be said for in-person visits. But really, I think you can see a lot more behaviors when the child is in his own environment. So that’s where I think an online ‘visit’ can be a good thing,” said Butler, 55, of Monroe, Ohio, told The Epoch Times.
When exposed to an unfamiliar environment such as a doctor’s office, children with autism can quickly become overstimulated and frightened. "Something as quiet as a refrigerator humming can sound like a bullhorn to them," Butler said.
Because his son reacted so severely to the stimuli in a doctor's office, the physician resorted to visiting him in a parking lot for a time, Butler said.
Later, his son adjusted and could go to the doctor's office with few issues.
Butler knows some parents who dread even trying to take their children to doctors, so they pretty much just give up.
A program such as the new online telehealth clinic called As You Are could serve as a great alternative for parents facing those situations, Butler said.
His son, who is now 20, was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in kindergarten. But it took three or four more years for his son to be diagnosed “on the autism spectrum,” a term used to indicate that “there is not one type of autism, but many,” AutismSpeaks notes.
It’s important to diagnose autistic children early so they can get the specific help they need during their crucial developmental years, Butler said.
“When my son finally got his diagnosis, it was an absolute game-changer. It opened up so many more things we could do for him,” Butler said.
For example, his son’s performance in school improved dramatically when he was permitted to answer test questions verbally rather than in writing.
The new As You Are service launched Aug. 1 with operations in five states where its pediatricians are licensed: Alabama, Kentucky, New Jersey, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
Considering that more than 80 percent of all U.S. counties lack diagnostic resources for children with autism, “there is a significant need across our country for autism diagnoses to be made earlier to help our next generations thrive,” Dr Kortney West, medical director for As You Are, said in a news release.
The clinic seeks to diagnose children who are aged 16 months to 10 years.
The As You Are process begins with a parent filling out a self-assessment. If that shows the child seems to meet the criteria for autism, the next step is for the parent to make a series of three telehealth appointments.
After a get-acquainted visit with the doctor observing the child’s behaviors during certain activities, the second visit involves the doctor observing more of the child’s activities; during the third visit, the doctor will provide evaluation results and next steps.
At the request of The Epoch Times, Butler perused part of the online assessment tool. He noted that the questions are “easy to answer and very specific to behaviors and things that parents would see easily.” He thinks it will be “very helpful” for parents.
An Epoch Times reporter did not receive an immediate response to an email seeking further information from an As You Are spokeswoman.
As You Are is managed and operated by Quadrant Biosciences Inc. and its affiliates, based in Syracuse, New York.