Di­ag­no­sis de­lays

Western Health re­sponds to Jac­kee Sweet.

The Gulf News (Port aux Basques) - - FRONT PAGE - Ros­alyn.roy@gulfnews.ca Twit­ter: @tyger­lylly

Last week The Gulf News high­lighted the chal­lenges and re­sult­ing frus­tra­tions of sin­gle mother Jac­kee Sweet, who is seek­ing treat­ment for her young son, Alexan­der.

Al­though Alexan­der has un­der­gone tests that sup­port Sweet’s be­lief he is on the autism spec­trum, with­out an of­fi­cial di­ag­no­sis he can­not ben­e­fit from some pro­vin­cial pro­grams and treat­ments.

Tara J. Pye, re­gional di­rec­tor of com­mu­ni­ca­tions for Western Health, of­fered some con­fir­ma­tion and clar­i­fi­ca­tion in re­sponse to a re­quest for in­for­ma­tion about the process of di­ag­nos­ing a child with autism.

“Western Health of­fers de­vel­op­men­tal as­sess­ment and in­ter­ven­tion ser­vices ( e. g. speech-lan­guage pathol­ogy and direct home ser­vices) to pres­chool chil­dren based on in­di­vid­ual need prior to a di­ag­no­sis of Autism Spec­trum Dis­or­der (ASD) be­ing made,” Pye wrote.

“Ser­vice providers refer chil­dren to the child de­vel­op­ment team for fur­ther as­sess­ment when con­cerns re­lated to ASD are iden­ti­fied dur­ing their in­volve­ment with a child.”

Alexan­der, who is nearly three, re­ceives both speech ther­apy and direct home ser­vices.

Ac­cord­ing to Pye, “The di­ag­nos­tic process car­ried out by the in­ter-dis­ci­plinary child de­vel­op­ment team in the western re­gion is com­pre­hen­sive and based on best prac­tice.”

Pye stated the cur­rent wait­list for as­sess­ment through this team is ap­prox­i­mately 50 chil­dren, and the av­er­age wait time is ap­prox­i­mately nine months, which con­firms Sweet’s ex­pec­ta­tions that Alexan­der will wait the bet­ter part of an­other year be­fore re­ceiv­ing an of­fi­cial di­ag­no­sis.

Pye did clar­ify it does not nec­es­sar­ily have to be the child de­vel­op­ment team that de­liv­ers the of­fi­cial di­ag­no­sis.

“In keep­ing with pro­vin­cial stan­dards, Western Health of­fers ap­plied be­hav­ioral anal­y­sis ther­apy to chil­dren who have a di­ag­no­sis of ASD,” she said. “The di­ag­no­sis of ASD is made by a child de­vel­op­ment team, pe­di­a­tri­cian, psy­chi­a­trist, or a psy­chol­o­gist with demon­strated clin­i­cal com­pe­tency in ASD di­ag­no­sis. Re­fer­rals for ap­plied be­hav­ioral anal­y­sis ther­apy (ABA) are ac­cepted at Western Health from any of these sources.”

Pye stated that ABA ser­vices are avail­able to chil­dren up to the age of Grade 4 school en­try, “and chil­dren re­ferred for ABA ser­vices are typ­i­cally as­signed a ther­a­pist within one month of re­fer­ral.”

For now, it seems all Sweet and Alexan­der can do is wait.

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF JAC­KEE SWEET

Alexan­der faces an­other 10-month wait be­fore he is likely to re­ceive a proper di­ag­no­sis by a child de­vel­op­ment team.

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