2 to 3 years. That’s about how long the current waiting list can be for an appointment at autism clinics in the Seattle area. If your child is diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder at that appointment, it may take another 18 months before your child receives Applied Behavior Analysis therapy.
“One of my interests is helping children with developmental disabilities to get the services they need as early as possible. Early diagnosis and treatment lead to better outcomes,” says Dr. Nawal Alkharouf, a pediatric specialist at Pacific Medical Centers (PacMed) Canyon Park, who was recently certified as a Center of Excellence provider for autism. “I strongly believe that we primary care providers need to do more to help children and families with developmental, behavioral and mental health problems, given the scarcity and high demand for specialists.”
If you suspect your child has an autism spectrum disorder, Dr. Alkharouf now certified to give you a diagnosis – and you don’t have to wait two years for an appointment.
The importance of regular good child visits
Regular doctor visits in the first two years of a baby’s life aren’t just for vaccinations — they’re essential for monitoring the growth and development of things like speech and motor skills. With the pandemic, many parents have canceled or postponed visits to their child. Children also interacted less with teachers, nurseries and their peers, which has also led to delayed diagnosis and treatment.
“Studies show better results when intervention services such as speech, occupational or physical therapy are started early. That is why seeing a good child is so important,” says Dr Alkharouf.
Mental health in infants, teens and young adults
“Suicide is now the second most common cause of death among young people between the ages of 10 and 24, and stress can also affect young children and infants. I strive for more continuing medical education to become better at recognizing, diagnosing and managing common mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety and behavioral problems in children,” says Dr. Alkharouf.
Mental health issues are not the same for every child or teen, but Dr. Alkharouf lists some possible signs of stress:
Infants may be fussier, harder to comfort, or have sleeping or feeding problems.
Toddlers and young children may have more tantrums, be hesitant to explore, or revert to bedwetting after toilet training.
Older children and adolescents may show sudden changes in behavior (for example, an outgoing teenager who shows little interest in friends); changes in sleep or appetite; concentration problems at school and changes in appearance.
“One of the best ways you can help your children is by paying attention to your own mental health – our stress seeps through to our children. I am a person who likes to meditate and walk, and I truly believe that nature is the best “Involve your family in things you enjoy, such as walking or yoga, so they can see you demonstrate your positive habits of mindfulness and exercise,” says Dr. alkharouf.
7 Things Parents Can Do to Prevent Suicide
Don’t let your teen’s depression or anxiety snowball. We all have bad days, but if a “bad day” lasts a week or more, seek professional help. Knock on the door and start a conversation. Listen without judgment and pay attention to body language. “Poor parent-child communication is a common feature in families affected by suicide.” Share your feelings. Tell your teen that you experience these feelings too, emphasize that your child is not alone and that stressful times will pass and things will get better. Encourage your teen not to isolate himself from family and friends, but don’t push if they’re not ready. “Numerous scientific studies show that exercise can put a brake on mild to moderate depression — even walking can release positive endorphins,” says Dr. alkharouf. If you have weapons, keep them locked or temporarily remove them from the house. “Guns are much more deadly than other forms of self-harm.” The goal is to rebuild confidence and self-esteem, so stay positive and don’t expect too much too soon.
For immediate assistance, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
To make an appointment with Dr. Alkharouf call 425-412-7200 or book online. Find Dr. Alkharouf at Pacific Medical Centers Canyon Park, 1909 214th St. SE in Bothell.
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