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Report: Lack Of Autism Specialists Creating Long Wait Times For Children

A new report says Michigan needs more autism specialists to help diagnose and treat children with the disorder.

As The Michigan Public Radio Network’s Jake Neher tells us, advocates say some kids are waiting up to two years to get help.

The Legislature passed new laws in 2012 requiring state-regulated insurance companies to cover autism diagnosis and treatment for children up to age 18. The report by the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation says that has led to more specialists working in Michigan. But it says it has also sometimes resulted in heavier caseloads.

Marianne Udow-Phillips directs the group.

“For some families, that means a fairly long wait if there’s a particular program that they want to go see,” she says.  “Others are able to get in a little more quickly.”

The new laws also included a temporary fund to help train new autism specialists. Udow-Philips hopes lawmakers will extend the lifespan of that fund once it’s depleted.

Jake Neher is a reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He covers the State Legislature and other political events in Lansing.
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