Sept 16, 2023, Letter: Diagnosis for children with autism can be elusive https://buffalonews.com/opinion/letters/letter-diagnosis-for-children-with-autism-can-be-elusive/article_4b71c9da-5301-11ee-82ee-5fd5d48142d4.html
An article appeared in a recent Buffalo News containing valuable information on the growing number of children being diagnosed with autism. This article was of particular interest to me as I have a three-year-old grandchild who exhibits classic symptoms of this disorder.
At the age of two, when she seemed bright but nonverbal, an independent speech evaluation was done, followed by speech therapy several times a week. Although she is able to repeat words and phrases, she does not use language to communicate or express herself. After 35 years of working as a pediatric nurse I had concerns about her social development, certain behavior, and her need for services.
The article stresses the need for early intervention, stating that "having a diagnosis is almost like the key that unlocks a lot of doors for services." Pursuing a diagnostic evaluation, however, is extremely difficult, and as the article explained, may take up to one year. Many calls were made to every agency from Buffalo to Rochester that offered services but sadly, very few of those calls were returned.
As we continue to wait on a long list for her much-needed evaluation, time marches on.
Month after month, she becomes more antisocial and sensitive to over-stimulation. In her own private little world, she continues to spin in circles or busy herself arranging her toys in perfect formation. How painful it is to never hear her call me "Grandma," or for her to allow me to enter into her world. It is equally painful to know that help exists but remains out of reach. Our schools boast of the slogan "No child left behind" and yet children with special needs are allowed to languish on long waiting lists.
VIDEO: My name is Dr. Michelle Hartley-McAndrew, and I’m the medical director of the Robert Warner Center for Developmental Pediatrics and Rehabilitation at Oishei Children's Hospital.
As part of that directorship, I’m also the medical director of the Children’s Skilled Autism Spectrum Disorder Center, which is a branch of the Robert Warner Center specifically dedicated to the evaluation and diagnosis of possible autism spectrum disorder.
At the autism center, we have a tremendous team of physicians, psychologists, nurse practitioners and therapists, all who provide support, diagnosis, and evaluation for children with possible autism spectrum disorder.
At the autism center we have the capacity to evaluate up to 800 to 900 children per year.
As part of our evaluation, it entails the use of well established measurements, standardized assessments in order to provide the best care to our families in western New York.