Healthcare Issues in Children with Developmental Disabilities (Autism)

*Corresponding author: Enow V. A. Eta*

Abstract

Developmental disabilities (DDs) refer to a group of conditions that influence the early development of children and cause changes in their normal developmental pattern affecting their physical, language and mental abilities or behavior. Children with DDs just like normally developing children have health issues that need to be addressed. This special group of children especially those having autism frequently suffer from associated conditions such as gastrointestinal disorders, eating and feeding challenges, seizures, sleep disturbances, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, and anxiety among others. These health problems affect the health of these children in different ways and extent. Thus, children with DDs need to access healthcare services and receive quality medical care just like their normally developing peers. However, the health needs of children with DDs particularly autism are not being met as required even though this special population are more likely to seek medical care due to their disabilities and associated conditions. Children with autism and other DDs experience disparities in health and healthcare service utilization. Autism is linked to many health conditions such as epilepsy, gastrointestinal problems and other mental disorders. These health problems affect each individual with autism in a unique way negatively affecting his/her existing social interaction and communication impairments. Again, health facilities and medical equipment are not disability-friendly making it difficult for this special group to effectively have access to quality care. In addition, most healthcare providers do not possess adequate knowledge and skills required to make critical decisions regarding this very special group of persons. Furthermore, due to cultural differences certain diagnosis and treatment regarding autism and other developmental disabilities may not be welcomed. The public health sector of all nations has the duty to promote health and prevent diseases for all including persons with disabilities.
Keywords
Developmental disabilities; Children with autism; Health conditions; Disparities in health;
Disparities in healthcare service utilization.