Navigating the healthcare sector to access better care can be complex and difficult for anyone. Not only social but financial and systemic barriers exist when you’re gathering the resources you need to receive quality treatment.
Fortunately, however, there are plenty of resources—from information to grant money—that can make it easier to improve your healthcare. You will be able to secure some of these resources on your own, while others may require seeking the help of professionals. Understanding the details is an important first step.
Starting the Search for Better Care
Whether you are just starting a larger healthcare journey or switching providers after a bad experience, it helps to have a comprehensive resource guide on hand. Understanding your options and improving your quality of life comes down to using all available tools because, unfortunately, adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) face disparities in care accessibility.
Approximately one in 160 adults lives with ASD. Healthcare accessibility for these individuals still remains inconsistent. Since adults with ASD face higher risks of co-occurring mental illnesses like depression and anxiety, as well as health conditions like epilepsy or cardiovascular disease, navigating care is of great importance.
The ASD community is one of the 6,600 underserved populations when it comes to sufficient healthcare accessibility. Contributing to this problem are barriers such as:
- Environment challenges of checking into a healthcare visit
- Communicating with care providers
- Providers ignoring preferred communication methods
- Past negative experiences with healthcare providers
These are just a few of the elements of care that can create painful scenarios for individuals with ASD, making the search for care solutions even more difficult than it already is. Fortunately, there are resources you can assemble both on your own and with the help of others to smooth the process of improving your care outcomes.
Empowering Your Healthcare
One of the most empowering things you can do for your own health care is to build a self-supportive system both in terms of available resources and financial wellness. For anyone, the healthcare system can be especially difficult to navigate. Costs add up and complexities like medical billing and insurance company communication may prove frustrating.
Overcoming these obstacles can start you down the path to better healthcare accessibility and results. In turn, you will be better able to find specific resources in your own care journey.
The following are ways you can empower your search for healthcare resources:
- Become a self-advocate.
A self-advocate is someone who supports their best interests in the face of adversity or a lack of knowledge and understanding. In healthcare, this can be especially necessary. It’s easy to go without being heard within the system. Symptoms and issues can be easily misdiagnosed or dismissed by care providers as something else. This is why it is important to recognize the usefulness of self-advocacy when communicating with healthcare professionals.
To combat bias and communication issues, it helps to write down your health concerns, ask all the questions you want, and even to get a second opinion if the situation does not feel right. You have the right to transparent, quality care, and are always justified in asserting that right.
- Look for grants and assistance.
With 66% of Americans expressing concerns about being able to make healthcare payments, financial barriers to accessible care can limit your resources. Luckily, there are grants, scholarships, and programs out there to help you get the care you need.
A caring community has already assembled many valuable resources to help individuals and families in their care. Funding is out there for everything from air travel to autism assistance dogs. It simply takes exploring nonprofits and grant opportunities.
- Explore treatment goals.
Assistive technologies, services, and therapies are out there for individuals with autism, not to treat or cure autism but to improve the quality of life and functionality for the individuals who want to take advantage of the options.
Every person with autism will have different needs and goals for their own care paths. Assistive and augmentative communication (AAC) tools may be helpful resources in managing the difficulties of managing your care. Software like speech-to-text, visual reminders, and word completion programs all can play a role in overcoming barriers to accessible healthcare.
In short, you are not alone in your journey to better healthcare but operating as a self-advocate will help you garner all the resources you need to improve your care. Then, keep all your resources in your own kind of toolkit—even if it takes the form of a typed-up list.
Assembling a Toolkit
With the help of the internet, it doesn’t have to be difficult to find and manage a reference guide of resources you can call upon when the need arises. Such a guide can take many forms, from a notebook of resources to a knowledgeable caretaker.
When assembling your own resource guide, the following items may come in handy:
- Links to information about autism grants for families
- Telehealth toolkits for families and providers
- Support groups
- Mental health services locator
- Information on government healthcare assistance programs like Medicaid
- Social Security benefits
- Assistive tech information
These resources are just a jumping-off point. Thousands of tools and guides exist out there on the web and in care facilities dedicated to serving individuals with autism and conditions like it.
Whether you are looking for resources for yourself or someone you care for, everything from grants to information can go a long way in breaking down the barriers individuals with autism face in receiving accessible healthcare.
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