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Reduction in waiting time for AUTISTIC spectrum disorder patients during CoVid -19

Reduction in waiting time for access to mental health services during CoVid-19 improves health outcomes for patients on the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in the pediatric age group in Northern Virginia.

The Covid -19 pandemic has resulted in uncertainty and unpredictability across the globe. The partial or complete lockdowns have led to social isolation, decreased family support and sudden loss of employment. The sharp rise in mental health conditions has resulted in increased burden on the mental health infrastructure across the country, making prompt access to mental healthcare a challenge (Moreno, 2020).

 

According to 2016 data from CDC, approximately 1 in 54 children are identified with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder, ICD-10-CM -F84.0). Children with ASD are identified as a high-risk group. ASD presents with co-morbidities viz. anxiety, learning disorders, epilepsy, dyspraxia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), aggression and immune system alternations amongst others. A common clinical feature of children on the Autism spectrum is obsession with daily routine.  The disruption in the routine during the Covid -19 pandemic is likely to cause major emotional and behavioral upheavals among these children. If behavioral therapy is not provided soon it may result in increase in the frequency and severity of symptoms and co-morbidities. This will not only impact the quality of their lives but also of their caregivers. Thus, there is an urgent need for home based mental health service to be provided to these children, since there is difficulty in practicing Covid -19 preventive behaviors (wearing a mask or distancing physically) which puts these children at a higher risk of infection (Eshraghi,2020).

 

It is therefore critical that the patients choose the ABA services that have the least patient waiting times so that the aggravated symptoms and co-morbidities during the pandemic are managed effectively. Most health insurances, in Northern Virginia as well as all across the country cover these services.

REFERENCES
  1. Eshraghi, A. A., Li, C., Alessandri, M., Messinger, D. S., Eshraghi, R. S., Mittal, R., & Armstrong, F. D. (2020). COVID-19: overcoming the challenges faced by individuals with autism and their families. The Lancet. Psychiatry, 7(6), 481–483. https://doi.org/10.1016/S2215-0366 (20)30197-8.
  2. Moreno, C. Wykes, T., Galderisi, S. (2020). How mental health care should change as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Lancet. Psychiatry. https://doi.org/10.1016/S2215-0366 (20)30307-2.
  3. Data & Statistics on Autism Spectrum Disorder. (2020). CDC. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/data.html
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