By Lisa Ackerman
At TACA, a common question with parents is “What is a MAPS or DAN! Doctor?” They are doctors that mean a tremendous amount to families living with autism. These doctors are instrumental for helping families assess and treat co-morbid conditions that can greatly improve the daily lives of individuals with autism.
The most important aspect of what these specialists provide is in the following key areas:
1) Listen: most of these doctors care to listen to parents’ concerns and observations in the hopes of better understanding the patient’s needs. Their goal is to find solutions for individuals.
2) Time: most of these doctors take the time to find and solve issues important to the family and that individual. These are not quick “well baby” or check-up visits. These appointments take time to help address complex issues.
There are many issues outside autism that if treated can positively affect a person’s life. Most of those concerns can be addressed by reading a previous TACAnowblog post: Biomedical treatments and autism: http://www.tacanow.org/blog/biomedical-treatments-and-autism/
Recently, changes were introduced at the Autism Research Institute (ARI) to conclude the Defeat Autism Now! program. You can read about it here: Autism Research Institute Statement and moving forward plan: http://www.autism.com/index.php/ed_movingforward. ARI’s focus will concentrate on research and finding answers for families.
ARI has worked to help families identify different resources. Here are some great recommendations for families: Treating & Finding: http://www.autism.com/treating_finding.
There is a great next step for families living with autism called MAPS: The Medical Academy of Pediatric Special Needs. TACA supports MAPS and is an active community member. You may read more about their goals here: The next generation of doctors MAPS: http://www.tacanow.org/blog/maps-new-physicians-group-for-autism-chronic-conditions/ . The goal of MAPS is looking to drive treatment based on science and the needs of individual.
MAPS have their next physician training in Orlando, Florida later this month. Your doctor should receive this important, up-to-date training. To read more: Going forward and take home message for parents http://tacanowblog.com/2012/07/26/educating-the-next-generation-autism-doctors/.
Parents know hours spent with a MAPS doctor can also add up. There is an existing article on TACA’s website that describes why these visits can be expensive: http://www.tacanow.org/family-resources/why-are-dan-doctors-so-expensive/
There are many ways to reduce costs for annual MAPS doctor visits; these include planning and creating an agenda ahead of time. Based on TACA member feedback, the average family pays for approximately 3-5 hours per year to see one of these specialists. More tips can be found here: http://www.tacanow.org/family-resources/biomedical-treatment-on-a-budget/
There are also ways for many families to receive health care reimbursement for all or part of doctors’ visits. Reimbursements vary by family insurance coverage. Check the TACA insurance page for details: http://www.tacanow.org/family-resources/health-insurance-coverage-on-a-budget/
TACA has several programs available to help families such as Live Chat, parent mentoring, and local chapter meetings. TACA staff and volunteers can make recommendations based on families’ needs. Please be sure to plug into the TACA community so we can help guide your next steps in treating your child’s unique medical issues. We are happy MAPS is here to listen to parent concerns, address patient needs and lead the path toward finding solutions for families living with autism.