Aug 21, 2023, KRVB TV, Boise, ID: Idaho parents may wait years for children with autism to see the proper specialist https://www.ktvb.com/amp/article/news/local/local-idaho-parents-could-wait-years-for-children-with-autism-to-see-the-proper-specialist/277-80e64bc7-8d12-4dc7-b59a-3d3146ba333c
Autism Spectrum Disorder is increasingly prevalent in the United States compared to previous decades. The latest CDC numbers show 1 in 36 kids have autism.
BOISE, Idaho — Tucked away in a McCall-stationed trailer, Kursten Rankin cherishes the moments she gets to spend with her family camping in Idaho.
"We don't go out in the community a lot," Rankin said. "You go through your day-to-day life trying to help your kiddos the best you can while you wait."
Kursten knows all about waiting; she's spent the better part of the last three years counting on phone calls.
"And there's a lot of a lot of things that you just have to wait for or wait for a callback," Rankin said. "I'm a mother of three special needs kiddos. All three have autism."
Currently, Idaho has relatively few resources to evaluate autism spectrum disorder, according to Full Circle Health Pediatrics Specialist Dr. Perry Brown. A waitlist has some Idaho parents, including Rankin, waiting 18 months before they can make an appointment with a specialist to diagnose their child.
"And it's like, okay, but my kid needs help now," Rankin said. "And a lot of times, you get stares. You get comments. And your kids are judged. It's a pretty traumatic experience being judged for things they cannot control."
A general pediatrician could diagnose a child with autism in more severe cases, according to Full Circle Health Pediatrics Specialist Dr. Perry Brown. However, autism is a spectrum. A specialist is often needed to identify more minor cases, or to fully understand the nuance and needs of a diagnosis at large.
"He would be very violent, very aggressive. Just couldn't calm down, couldn't sit still," Rankin said. "What people don't get is they don't choose that."
Rankin's oldest has received the care he needs; it positively impacted their whole family. It cost more time than she wanted to spend, but the nearly three-year process was worth it.
"It's been life changing for us with him being on the right medication," Rankin said. "They're incredible people, there are some amazing therapists and doctors in this valley."