Medical, Behavioral Health & Dental Services
Health Services are the care provided to children, youth, and adults with autism to ensure their physical health and well-being.
Dental Services are accessible and comprehensive dental care for patients by dentist and dental hygienists trained in supporting the needs of patients with autism.
Behavioral Health Services are comprehensive and coordinated services for children and adults by medical and other health professionals trained in supporting the unique needs of people with autism and other co-occurring behavioral health diagnoses.
In a Medical Home, families work closely with primary care providers in ensuring coordinated, comprehensive, and continuous health care. The medical home is a partnership between the physicians and family that addresses both medical and non-medical needs.
Quality Indicators / Problems / Data Drivers
QI 3.1: Health care providers, including medical, dental, behavioral health, and other health professionals, are knowledgeable about how to support the routine needs of children with autism and their families.
Problem: Many health care providers are unfamiliar with the resources available to assist families with a child with autism. Georgia has a shortage of practitioners (e.g., physicians, dentists, and optometrists) with the expertise to support children with autism and their families. Those professionals who do have the specific training and knowledge have long waiting lists.
Data Driver: Accessing knowledgeable service providers in some areas of Georgia may involve a waiting time of up to 3 years.10 Waiting time has been identified by parents as the most stressful aspect of obtaining services for their child with autism.11
QI 3.2: Children with autism and their families can access health and dental specialists who are able to support the needs of children with autism.
Problem: Georgia has a shortage of health and dental specialists (e.g., child psychiatrists, developmental pediatricians, pediatric neurologists) to serve children with autism. It is particularly difficult to locate specialist providers for children on Medicaid.
Data Drivers: Children with autism have difficulty accessing health care, including medical, behavioral health, and dental care.12, 13 Preventive dental coverage for young adults receiving Medicaid stops at age 2114 so many young adults do not continue to receive services.
QI 3.3: Children with autism have access to a medical and dental home that provides comprehensive, coordinated care.
Problem: The medical home model is not in widespread use in pediatric settings.
Data Driver: Children with autism receive care in medical homes at lower rates than children with other special healthcare needs or typically developing peers.15
QI 3.4: Children with autism have access to behavioral health professionals who are knowledgeable of and trained in the unique needs of children with autism and their families.
Problem: Georgia has a limited number of behavioral health providers familiar with the unique needs of individuals with autism and the interfering behaviors that are often present. Even fewer behavioral health providers are trained to address the needs of individuals with autism who are experiencing other behavioral health disorders.
Data Driver: Children with autism often experience co-occurring behavioral health disorders.16