Grandview Children’s Centre recently created an innovative new process that will give more families virtual access to receiving an autism diagnosis for their child. Grandview’s Autism Virtual Assessment allows Dr. Carolyn Hunt to complete the history and for young children over phone with their parent, and undertake an assessment via video call.
“During the shutdown, we have received more than 100 new referrals for toddlers and young preschoolers,” says Dr. Hunt. “We are so grateful to Grandview Kids for providing us the support to do this and allowing these families to process the news of this diagnosis and get their kids into essential services and on wait lists for life-changing therapy.”
The first Grandview family to receive this type of virtual assessment, was Emily’s.
Emily’s oldest son, Tristan had already been diagnosed with autism in 2019, and after noticing some concerning behaviours in her younger son, Brian, she had an appointment set to receive an in-person autism assessment with Dr. Hunt. Unfortunately, that wasn’t able to happen due to recent events. That’s when Dr. Hunt and her team at Grandview took steps toward making a virtual assessment happen.
The virtual assessment process allowed Dr. Hunt to complete a full history for Brian over the phone, review short home videos, and then, after having a special kit of specific toys dropped off at Emily’s home, be able to observe his play using video conferencing. “My husband did the video work,” says Emily. “He followed Brian as he moved around and he and I played with the toys. Then the day after our one-hour video call, we received a call from Dr. Hunt with the diagnosis.”
Being able to find out that her younger son was also on the autism spectrum, confirmed the thoughts and feelings that Emily had been having. It also meant that Brian wouldn’t have to wait until Grandview re-opened its buildings to receive a diagnosis letter and register for funding from the Ontario Autism Program (OAP).
“We are thrilled to be one of the teams in the province leading this work,” says Dr. Hunt. “We are grateful to the Ministry of Healthy for allowing the medical team to bill OHIP for these virtual services that are so important to the developmental success of children in our region.”
“We also want donors to know that this would not have been possible without the support of the Grandview team behind us.”