- Family medicine physicians and APRN’s are the front line.
Developmental screening is recommended to be done by the child’s primary care provider. If a delay is suspected, a referral is made for more definitive diagnosis. Many of the evaluations are conducted in Little Rock at the James L. Dennis Developmental Center, part of the UAMS Department of Pediatrics. After a diagnosis, families return to their home community to receive the bulk of their care with the aid of their primary care provider. Providers may not feel adequately trained to advise families.
- There’s a great new website that can help.
The Community-based Autism Liaison and Treatment Project (CoBALT) has launched a website – CoBALTAR.org – that connects families and health care professionals with trustworthy, evidence-based information about autism and other developmental disorders. For providers, the website includes: autism diagnosis criteria and treatment protocols, information on typical developmental milestones, screening guidelines and resources that providers can give to families.
- Families don’t have to wait for a diagnosis to start interventions.
Many services can begin based on symptoms and do not have to wait for a definitive diagnosis. For example, a child waiting for confirmation of a possible autism diagnosis does not have to wait to start speech therapy. “Quicker services often lead to better outcomes, because when you’re dealing with children and developmental disorders – each passing week can mean another missed milestone,” said Jayne Bellando, Ph.D., CoBALT co-director and associate professor of pediatric psychology.
- CoBALT teams are increasing access to developmental screening.
CoBALT teams are health care providers across the state trained to screen children for developmental disorders. CoBALT teams can reduce wait times and travel distances for families – all with the goal of improving outcomes for patients. Today, there are CoBALT teams in Lowell, Fort Smith, Clinton, Forrest City, El Dorado and Little Rock that can conduct screening for developmental disorders/autism. Teams are made up of physicians or advanced nurse practitioners and other health professionals.
- ECHO will further expand the knowledge-sharing network.
The Department of Pediatrics is creating a program for providers of children with special health care needs. ECHO (Extension for Community Health Outcomes) is an innovative program designed to create knowledge networks bringing together primary care providers in rural and underserved areas and specialty care providers at academic medical centers through a telementoring program using educational and case-based presentations.
Interested in joining us? Both CoBALT and ECHO are open to applications from providers looking to increase their knowledge base and become part of the solution for improving developmental care in Arkansas. To apply, contact Eldon Schulz, M.D., (SchulzEldon@uams.edu) or Bellando (Bellandojayne@uams.edu).