In the 1980s, Dr. Robin K. Blitz was in medical school and does not remember having the opportunity to attend lectures on autism spectrum disorder or ASD. Fast-forward to 2018, an estimated one in 59 children has autism, and Dr. Blitz wants health care providers to have access to information that helps them better care for children who have been diagnosed.
Dr. Blitz, a board-certified developmental-behavioral pediatrician and senior medical director of the Special Needs Initiative at UnitedHealthcare, has devoted her life’s work to improving the lives of children with ASD and other developmental disabilities. With ASD diagnoses on the rise, Dr. Blitz says there is a crucial need to better understand the neurobehavioral disorder and its effective care strategies.
“ASD used to be thought of as much more rare,” Dr. Blitz said. “Now we understand autism affects a spectrum of people with a variety of disabilities and its prevalence is much higher. There are many individuals who were not diagnosed or previously did not receive the support and care that they needed.”
In partnership with OptumHealth Education, Dr. Blitz helped create a free six-part educational webinar for health care and other professionals to better identify and monitor children with autism spectrum disorder. The series provides a comprehensive overview of ASD and aims to promote optimal outcomes and compassionate care. Attendees will also learn about the importance of family-centered care to help coordinate medical resources, educational services and therapies.
“There is so much information about autism that it can be overwhelming. So, we’re hoping to break it down by offering essential and current information in a concise manner,” Dr. Blitz said. “It offers attendees over a six-month period an in-depth assessment of what ASD is while sharing references and resources.”
Course material is appropriate for physicians, nurse practitioners and psychologists who work with children and families seeking screening and treatment options. Content would also be relevant for educators, social workers and case workers seeking to understand the tools and strategies for supporting children with ASD. The courses are free of charge, and attendees can earn one continuing education credit or continuing medical education credit per session.
The next session, focusing on medical home care, will be 1-2 p.m. Eastern time on Tuesday, June 5. The webcasts will be recorded and available on demand at www.optumhealtheducation.com. To register or see other topics in the series, visit the OptumHealth Education calendar.