Then came COVID-19, presenting interruptions to daily routines that are essential to children with autism. In a recent survey, 64% of caregivers said pandemic changes “severely or moderately impacted” their child’s autism symptoms. Three-quarters of parents felt extreme or moderate stress because of the disruptions.
Autism is a lifelong neuro-developmental disorder, explains Gayle Jordan-Randolph, MD, Medical Director for Aetna’s Autism Care Team. It impacts communication and social interaction across multiple settings and is characterized by repetitive behaviors, interests or actions.
The Autism Care Team, which Lisa is also a part of, is comprised of licensed clinical and behavioral professionals trained in autism spectrum disorders treatment. Depending on a member’s plan, services are included as part of Aetna’s Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) benefit at no additional cost.
“It’s important to recognize that these children have strengths,” says Dr. Jordan-Randolph. “Children with autism grow and develop and reach adulthood and do well.”
Early on, Lisa and her family needed to make changes to their lifestyle. “You learn that routine things like birthday parties, playdates and trips to the dentist are going to be difficult. You might have to bring your own food to parties, or you might need to leave early — and that's OK.”