Health Care Needs of Adolescents with Autism
Four themes representing the challenges the parents’ experiences included concern with medications, frustrations with healthcare services, recognizing secondary health issues, and the need for resources and services. Parents of adolescents with autism locating information about Autism, trying to understand the necessary medications that are needed and prescribed, and experiencing minimal social support from health care providers.
Parenting a child with an autism spectrum can be very stressful because of the number and nature of symptoms associated with the disorder and because of the child’s inability to communicate effectively, difficulty in learning, and inappropriate and sometimes aggressive or violent behavior. Other parenting challenges include the child’s ongoing dependency as well as the need for parents to be the child’s advocate within the school, medical setting, social settings, and to plan for the child’s future.
Adolescents with autism have the same basic health care needs as adolescents who do not have autism however they tend to experience higher levels of stress, decreased physical activity, unsafe sexual activity, depression and suicide. The report reads that there is a need to describe these experiences and to develop services and interventions to improve the management of the adolescent’s health care needs given the increasing numbers of children diagnosed with autism.
A study was done to form a perspective of the parents’ managing the health care needs of adolescents with Autism because this method focuses on the experiences of individuals. This was accomplished by keeping a journal of recorded thoughts, biases, and knowledge regarding Autism. The second step consisted of reading through the interview transcripts and then drawing out significant statements.
Parents said that they were responsible for learning about autism without help from their health care providers after their child received a diagnosis of needing assistance; parents felt helpless dealing with the health care system. Parents expressed feelings of helplessness because of their frustration with health care in general and a lack of understanding of what autism is and what is involved in managing health care needs for adolescents with autism. Parents stated there was a lack of medical personnel specifically qualified to work with adolescents with ASD and that parents had to learn about autism and medications on their own. Parents stated that they often felt rushed during their adolescent’s appointments.
The board’s recommendations were that health care providers can assist parents to overcome frustrations and challenges by becoming more aware of Autism by creating and planning interventions for parents, by sharing information regarding resources and services, and by collaborating with others in the health care field to provide services for adolescents and their families. Additional research is needed to fully understand the experience of both parents and their adolescents with Autism. Further research may also help identify specific needs of adolescents and families as well the usefulness of existing resources and treatments. Future work should be directed toward intervention studies involving the parent, as the expert, in teaching the professional how to assist parents of adolescents with autism.
I chose this article because of the newness of the disorder. l know that there is not a lot of information available about the topic and that parents are frustrated over it. The parent’s plight to learn about their child’s disorder and all that it entails is a difficult one since there aren’t many experts in the field. We have First Steps that can give free assistance up to age three. Indianapolis has; Indiana Resource Center for Autism – IIDC - The Indiana ...www.iic.indiana.edu, Autism Society of Indiana - home – ASI...
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