Wednesday, February 20, 2008

North Shore Health System Web Page: On Types of Help that Adults with Autism Need

There is no doubt that children with autism need various types of therapies: speech, occupational, behavioral, etc. My child is currently receiving speech, occupational, and physical therapy. Further, his special education teacher as well as my husband and I continuously help him with social and behavioral skills.

Adults with higher functioning autism or Asperger Syndrome may or may not need these types of therapies. It depends on how they have learned to cope with their condition. However, it must be noted that adults on other areas of the spectrum require different types of therapies well into their adulthood and perhaps for their entire life.

I found a page put up by the North Shore - Long Island Jewish Health System on their site that outlines the types of help that adults with autism need. The page is part of their "Tool-kit for Healtcare Professionals". I found this page to be well organized and well written. (I listed most of their points near the end of this post.)

Unfortunately, the page doesn't address the difficulty that caregivers face in obtaining these services. It's not always easy to locate, not to mention pay for these services. Do I need to mention the health care mess the Unites States still needs to sort out? Lawmakers have been trying to improve the system in the U.S. for eons. Healthcare in general is still a top platform issue for U.S. political candidates.

Most insurance agencies in the United States will not pay for services when autism is listed as the reason for need of a service. That is why the Autism Society of Michigan formed the A.C.T.I.O.N. coalition. Their goal is to get legislation passed that will require insurance to pay for services for individuals with autism. My family may have benefited from such a law three years ago when I asked my insurance agency whether or not it would help pay for $300 a month Play Therapy for my son. The agency said no, so we passed on the Play Therapy option.

Fortunately, an individual in the United States (or at least Michigan) can receive therapies from the public school system until 26 (that is if a student is recognized by the school system as having autism which is a whole other story.) Unfortunately, we have nothing else in place (in terms of legislation) for individuals 26 years and older.

At least some health care professionals recognize the need. That is a start. Here is a list of therapies, techniques and training that the North Shore - Long Island Jewish Health System suggests for adults with autism:

"1. Social skills training and refinement of skills; Speech and language development.

2. Ongoing support for individuals via psychological and psychotherapeutic interventions is indicated. The type of support required depends on the ability to communicate and the degree of psychological mindedness and relatedness; Family supports are essential during these periods.

3. The use of techniques such as formal social skills curricula and social stories to understand emotions and recognize the topography of other people’s emotional states in relation to specific situations can be helpful; Evaluation of sexual knowledge is indicated. Educational and counseling when appropriate should be provided.

4. Placement into day programs or vocational opportunities must be based on the individual’s strengths; Programming will need to be individualized as much as possible; Structured settings with fixed routines are preferable.

5. People with autism will often have sensory sensitivities that interfere with their functioning; there are interventions that can help them, which include desensitization procedures.

6. Provide Cognitive Behavioral Therapy as needed; Shape alternative adaptive skills associated with stereotypic movements; Negotiate/Shape new routines that can be tolerated over time; Prepare the individual for significant changes in daily routine.

7. Psychiatric and psychological evaluations are helpful; Judicious use of psychotropic medications is indicated;
Cognitive-behavioral therapy and psychotherapy must be paired with psychiatric interventions; Family programs based on coping and modifying behavior are often needed; External supports including respite and crisis intervention programs are available in emergencies. "

© North Shore - Long Island Jewish Health System

About the North Shore - Long Island Jewish Health System:

  • Nation's third-largest, non-profit, secular healthcare system (based on number of beds)
  • Nation's 16th largest healthcare network, based on net patient revenue, and the largest in New York State
  • Service area of 5.2 million people in Long Island, Queens and Staten Island
  • Recipient of Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) Codman Award, the first health system to attain this distinction.


Maddy said...

It's always the gap between the need for services and the provision of services that saddens me.
Best wishes

p.s. thanks for the tool kit link

Casdok said...

Yes we have gaps to, depending on where you live.