WEDNESDAY, May 16 (HealthDay News) -- Many parents of children with an autism spectrum disorder don't feel they can turn to their pediatricians for advice on treatments, a new study finds.
Likewise, many pediatricians don't think they have the knowledge -- or time -- to devote to children with autism, with some citing reimbursement policies that don't allow for payment for lengthier appointments or for managing complex cases.
The pediatricians interviewed for the study also said they felt especially uncomfortable advising parents on alternative therapies, which are commonly used by families with autistic children.
"Most parents are not going to pediatricians with questions about treatments. They looked to them for referrals to specialists or to community resources, but they really weren't going to them for guidance about what sort of treatments they should pursue," said study author Dr. Susan Levy, who directs the Regional Autism Center and the Center for Autism Research at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
"And the pediatricians didn't feel informed enough to make those recommendations," she added.
Autism experts said the findings point to a problem that needs a solution.
"This study validates what previous studies and parents have told us: Many pediatricians are not prepared to provide the kind of advice and information that parents need after receiving a diagnosis of autism for their child," said Geraldine Dawson, chief science officer for Autism Speaks.
She added: "Without advice and information from their primary care provider, families must navigate treatment options on their own, which can be confusing and complex. This adds to the already high levels of stress that families are experiencing. We need greater emphasis on autism training for primary care physicians so they can help parents make informed decisions about their child's care."
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