08 March 2011

Let's screw over kids with Autism - For MONEY!

In early January, I sent around a letter explaining why I was so upset that SLPs had been removed from the referral process for Autism in BC. I just got a response from the Ministry of Health. What. A. Joke. My comments are in regular. Hers in italics.

>Thank you for your email received January 27, 2011, regarding autism
>assessment. I apologize for the delayed response.

I think you mean letter, not email, but that's okay. :)

>I appreciate that your personal experience has provided a unique
>perspective on autism assessment and that you have taken the time to
>share your comments with the Ministry of Health Services (the Ministry).
> *snip* One reason for accepting physician only referrals,
>is care from one physician can only be transferred to another physician.
>The assessment reports often include recommendations for the child and
>family that are health related and that care can only be managed by
>another physician.

When my son was diagnosed, the doctor on the team sent the recommendations to our family doctor. My son was referred by the speech pathologist. It didn't make a difference. Those recommendations were still sent.
What you don't address here is what people can do if they don't have a family doctor. Clinic doctors are happy to send anyone for a referral to a specialist, esp. a pediatrician, who will take at MINIMUM 6 months to see the child.

>Enforcing the existing policy has had an impact on Vancouver Island,
>where speech language pathologists were making referrals and now are
>not. The reason the process changed was to ensure standardization and
>equity within the program across all regions.

Then speech pathologists accross the province should have been allowed to make the referrals. That too would have guaranteed equity and standardization. In fact, it would have improved access for more children. Especially in areas where there is only one doctor.

>I realize that going from doctor to doctor did not provide your family
>with a continuum of care.

Excuse me? Are you suggesting I was doctor shopping? We went from doctor to doctor because one doctor quit, one retired, and one died.

The province has made significant investments
>to strengthen and expand the role of primary care physicians and has
>funded a number of prototype integrated health networks across the
>province, all of which help serve as a foundation for the next phase of
>system planning.

Oh please. That does NOTHING to enhance their knowledge of Autism, which is limited to one class in one course. If the child isn't a textbook case, they'll be dismissed. Autism is a spectrum disorder. No two children present identically. Doctors do not have the same training or the same *time* with children. An SLP spends hours and hours with children. A doctor spends minutes. I have never yet been given more than 20 minutes by a doctor. Our SLP spent an hour per month with us for over a year.

>For many British Columbians, the first point of contact within the
>health care system is with primary care providers, such as family

Yes, and they send us on to someone else, like the SLP. If she has to send us back, it wastes valuable time. And if the family physician then in turn says "I don't know about Autism, go see the pediatrician" it wastes yet another 6 months - the most valuable months we have. I don't think you're seeing how this is hurting kids.

Regional health authorities are re-orienting their services
>around family physicians through Division of Family Practice and
>collaborative services committees. Division of Family Practice give
>physicians a stronger collective voice and more impact on health care
>services in their community while helping them work together to improve
>their clinical practices, offer comprehensive patient services, and
>influence health service decision-making in their communities.

That's utterly irrelevant to Autism referrals. Especially if the doctor is ignorant of the subject. What good does a stronger collective voice do if doctors are uneducated about Autism?

>Again, thank you for writing. I appreciate the opportunity to respond.

I just wish it had done some good. :(

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