DARBY, PENNSYLVANIA- As a former preschool teacher who spent more than a decade teaching the youngest generation, Maria Martinez says she immediately noticed when her own son started showing signs of autism before he turned 2 years old. Every time she brought it up with someone, she said they would call it “typical behavior”. She felt discouraged and said she wasn’t being heard.
“I was really, really struggling with all of it. It was so disheartening,” she said.
For 1.5 years, Maria kept picking up the phone to schedule an autism evaluation at different clinics in the Delaware County area, about 30 minutes outside of Philadelphia, but kept facing barriers. All this time, Maria couldn’t believe that she couldn’t even get his name on a waitlist. But she kept trying. On Instagram, she discovered a virtual clinic for autism diagnostic evaluations called As You Are. She was excited about the concept of telehealth for this purpose and scheduled an appointment.
“I feel virtual is better because they truly see what you see. If they are in a setting not comfortable, there is a possibility they won’t act in the manner they typically do. Especially if you can’t travel, it’s more convenient,” she said.
Three video calls later with her dedicated As You Are physician, she learned that her gut feeling was right: her 4-year-old son, Kayden, has autism.
“The doctor was phenomenal. She gave me time to process the diagnosis. I mainly cried because I knew I was right,” she said.
After the diagnosis, she met with a care coordinator at As You Are, called a Care Sidekick, who took all of the homework off her hands by providing a list of services available in her community to go for therapy.
“The Care Sidekick was very sweet and gave me an understanding of where to go next for services. She told me, ‘You don’t have to do anything, we’ll do it for you.’ As You Are gave me the support I really needed because no one else was listening,” she said.
Do you have questions about your child’s development? The team at As You Are provides diagnostic evaluations for kids 16 months to 10 years old via telehealth appointments along with useful resources, including an online autism screening. Learn more at asyouare.com.