Of course there are always going to be additional challenges for family members, as well as their healthcare providers, when one or more of their children are diagnosed with autism. For families who also have to face challenges from a low-income situation though, the difficulties surrounding obtaining a proper diagnosis, as well as effective treatment for their child make it all that more challenging. Fortunately, the healthcare world is starting to wake up and take note of the specific obstacles facing low-income communities. Positive changes that can offer struggling families help and hope are becoming available.
Low-Income Stumbling Blocks
When a member of a low-income family requires any type of medical care, whether for a single visit or for a chronic condition such as autism, there are unique challenges. In sparsely populated areas such as Wyoming, Montana and Alaska, families may need to travel several hours to receive medical care and specialty care providers are often few and far between. Inner city areas pose different challenges. There may be medical care closer to home, but the healthcare organization serves a much larger population, making it difficult to get timely and accurate treatment from busy staff members.
Language barriers can pose an additional obstacle, making it difficult to receive a proper diagnosis that should be followed up with consistent extended care. For patients who use English as a second language, when the vast majority of healthcare professionals in the U.S. speak English, it makes breaking through low-income barriers that much more difficult.
There are increasing efforts to combat an often overlooked, or at least a delayed diagnosis, for a low-income child who needs care for autism. There is now a discernable push from community groups and scientists to have physicians that serve low-income communities -- and the pediatricians especially, to receive autism training so they can identify, diagnosis, and recommend autism treatment for their patients. Essentially, bringing the expertise to the patients rather than expecting them to search over a large geographical area for specialty care.
There are also community groups such as Grupo Salto that serve in low-income areas that can provide assistance to break through language barriers, as well as provide additional practical assistance such as driving families to healthcare centers offering the expertise necessary to treat autistic children. Of course, it is especially challenging for anyone to find the time and the resources to work in order to gain access to medical insurance. For those who simply cannot manage caring for an autistic child, along with other children in the family, government resources such as Medicaid are also available.
If you are interested in more information on this and related topics, visit the Behavioral Health section of our blog.
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