ASDs Family Handout—The Medical Home for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders
What is a medical home?
Parents, pediatricians, and other health care professionals are encouraged to work together so that all of the medical and nonmedical needs of children and youth are met. This partnership is at the core of what the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) calls the
Why is it important to have a medical home?
Studies have shown that the presence of a family-centered medical home leads to more effective treatment of conditions. In a family-centered medical home, the pediatrician maintains patterns of communication with the family that help ensure routine care is achieved, such as immunizations and other preventive activities.
Many children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) see a variety of specialists, such as developmental and behavioral pediatricians, neurologists, and gastroenterologists, to manage certain medical conditions. Your child's pediatrician and these specialists can provide your child with the best and most efficient care when they communicate with each other and are able to have their recommendations integrated into an overall plan for your child's health and wellness. A medical home can help provide this support.
Families are also more likely to be effectively connected with community agencies and services and receive more support from such agencies as well as from other families in similar situations. Children are more likely to receive services and treatments that the pediatrician or specialty practitioner has recommended.
What is our child's care plan?
The medical home primary care practice team plays an important role in the child and family's life and will work together with parents to create a written care plan for each child. A
What is our child's care notebook?
Care notebooks can be used to track your child's ongoing care and services—who was seen for what purpose and when, and so on. They also are valuable in helping families communicate with various doctors by serving as a ready place to write down questions or concerns to bring up with a doctor, or information to transmit from one doctor to another. It is recommended that families bring their child's care notebook with them to all appointments and on all trips to keep doctors up to date as well as to have information available in case of emergency.
There are many different ways to develop your child's care notebook (see Resources).
How do visits to the medical home work?
Visits to your child's medical home may take a little longer to identify and address all the issues pertinent to your child and family situation. Parents and the medical home care team should schedule appointments that are long enough to discuss all of their concerns. You need to let the office know that you have additional questions so they can schedule enough time. Bringing toys, snacks, or another adult to appointments is often very helpful. Parents know their child best and over time, they often become experts concerning their child's disability. Parental knowledge and opinions are recognized and respected in the medical home. Parents are encouraged to seek information, ask questions, and trust in their intuition.
American Academy of Pediatrics HealthyChildren.org:
Autism Speaks Family Services Resource Guide:
National Center for Medical Home Implementation:
Family handout from