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How this early autism diagnostic service helped a Darby mother

DARBY, Pa. (CBS) — Preschooler Kayden Rodriguez is Maria Martinez’s youngest child.

“For the short four years of his life, he’s taught me so much,” Martinez said.

The Darby mom of three says the most important lessons she’s gained are patience and persistence.

“When he was two, I got him evaluated. So we got the diagnosis of a speech delay and a social emotional delay. But the older he got, the more signs I’ve seen of autism.”

After seeing sudden outbursts and repetitive behaviors, Martinez felt something more needed to be done and tried to get her son an autism evaluation.

But waitlists were months long.

That’s when she turned to Instagram and found healthcare organization As You Are.

Through three sessions, a physician with the virtual autism clinic worked with Kayden and Maria, diagnosing the preschooler with the disorder in February.

“A lot of people say because I’m a single mom. And you know, I’m in school, and I work full time, like, I’m the superhero,” Martinez said. “But with him having the diagnosis … he’s the superhero in my eyes.”

As You Are’s team of physicians works with patients ages 16 months to 10 years old.

Founder Kayla Wagner says the virtual clinic developed from her passion to make health care more widely accessible, as well as the importance of early intervention.

“I lose sleep at night thinking that children are waiting years for health care, for an appointment with a physician,” Wagner said. “And to receive a diagnosis that potentially has long-term impacts if they wait.”

The virtual clinic continues to work with families like Martinez’s after a diagnosis.

“I’m literally his only voice,” Martinez said. “And now that I have As You Are, I’m not his only voice anymore.”

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