By Cassidy Hopson
Many people living with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) rely on the treatment administered by health care professionals to help support their development. But, with the continuing spread of COVID-19 and the encouragement of social distancing, it may be harder for children with ASD to access care. A potential solution for them and their families is virtual telehealth services.
Telehealth is the use of remote technologies to connect patients and health care providers. It can be a great resource for those with ASD and their families, as it is useful for ASD diagnosis, therapy and caregiver education.
Telehealth for ASD
Diagnosis: Telehealth services have shown promise in the early detection of autism. In one study, remote clinicians accurately identified 78.9% of all children who ultimately received ASD diagnoses from physicians who evaluated the children in-person4.
ABA therapy: Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a common therapy used for children with ASD. It is a flexible form of treatment that focuses on positive reinforcement. Telehealth can be used to teach parents how to administer ABA therapy to their children1,3.
Parent education: Parental training is a well-established and evident based intervention to help children with disruptive behavior or ASD. Telehealth services can successfully be used to administer this training to caregivers, as one study found that of 13 families that had completed training, 11 of the participant children had substantially improved, according to an independent evaluator2.
Preparing for a telehealth appointment
Before a telehealth visit, it is important to make a few preparations to ensure the best possible experience.
- A reliable device that enables audio/video
- A strong Wi-Fi connection
- Speakers or headphones (headphones will reduce background noise and can be helpful with privacy)
If you are seeking resources on learning how to prepare for your telehealth appointment, read more here: https://health.usnews.com/conditions/articles/a-beginners-guide-to-a-virtual-doctors-visit.
If you think telehealth is right for you and your child with ASD, UF Health offers telehealth services under a variety of practices. Reach out to your provider for more information.
- Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.autismspeaks.org/applied-behavior-analysis-aba-0
- Bearss, K., Burrell, T. L., Challa, S. A., Postorino, V., Gillespie, S. E., Crooks, C., & Scahill, L. (2018). Feasibility of Parent Training via Telehealth for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Disruptive Behavior: A Demonstration Pilot. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 48(4). doi: 10.1007/s10803-017-3363-2
- Bearss, K., Burrell, T. L., Stewart, L. M., & Scahill, L. (2015). Parent Training in Autism Spectrum Disorder: What’s in a Name? Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review. doi: 10.1007/s10567-015-0179-5
- Goldstein, F. P., Klaiman, C., & Willliams, S. (2017). Bridging care gaps: using tele-health to provide care for people with autism spectrum disorder. International Journal of Developmental Disabilities, 63(4). doi: 10.1080/20473869.2017.1322342
- Juárez, A. P., Weitlauf, A. S., Nicholson, A., Pasternak, A., Broderick, N., Hine, J., … Warren, Z. (2018). Early Identification of ASD Through Telemedicine: Potential Value for Underserved Populations. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 48(8). doi: 10.1007/s10803-018-3524-y