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New Mexico: Dramatic increase in autism/cuts in funding/years waiting for diagnosis

Dec 9, 2018, Santa Fe New Mexican: New Mexico children can wait years for an autism diagnosis When 8-year-old Adam goes to a new place, it can be exciting, almost overwhelming. … “I took Adam to the doctor probably every day for the first two weeks that we were home because he would just scream,” LeDoux said. “Out of a 24-hour day, Adam screamed like almost 18 hours.” The pediatrician said he had colic. But as the weeks and months passed, his mother couldn’t stop worrying. Adam was late for every milestone. By the time he flashed his first smile — at 10 months — he should have started walking. When he finally started walking, he should have begun potty training. LeDoux asked herself — and then her doctor — if Adam might have autism spectrum disorder. “Oh, that’s just normal for kids Adam’s age; really, don’t worry about it,” LeDoux recalls the doctor assuring her without conducting an evaluation…. Data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services show that with 104 health shortage areas in New Mexico, the state needs 261 additional doctors. Some counties have over 7,000 people for every primary care physician, which means providers can meet the needs of only a quarter of the population. Mental and behavioral health is even more of a challenge, with only 12 percent of the need being met. And though the rate of autism has soared since 2007 — from 1 in 250 children to 1 in 59 — state funding for autism programs was cut by about half by Gov. Susana Martinez’s administration. … The waiting period for evaluations has skyrocketed. According to the UNM clinic, which sees about eight children per week, the wait for a child under 6 is up to two years; for 6 and older, the wait is more than three years. … LeDoux said her repeated requests for a screening were ignored at every well-child visit throughout the first six years of Adam’s life. … And along with 600 other New Mexico children, he is still waiting for that medical diagnosis.


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