Community Support Events- Autism and Access to Healthcare
AsIAm in association with SuperValu recently hosted its latest community support seminar in Skerries.
This seminar focused on the topic of Autism & Access to Healthcare. Our two presenters on the evening were Dr Mary Doherty and Dr Caoimhin Mac Giolla Phadraig.
Our first speaker, Dr Mary Doherty, MB BCh NUI FCARCSI, is a Consultant Anaesthetist with over 20 years of experience in the Irish Health Services and autism advocate.
Mary argued effective access to healthcare can only be achieved by the service provider being aware on all levels. She then pointed out quiet spaces are a necessary part of visits as “consultation is pointless if stress levels are high.” A healthcare professional cannot get an accurate diagnosis of an autistic person’s health if they are in a sensory hostile environment. She advocated using the autistic need for routine as “our ally” by making GP visits part of normal routine could help alleviate distress for autistic people.
Doherty closed by pointing to the ‘appalling’ lack of mental health services for autistic people. Mary then remarked we need to “promote positive self image and self esteem” to render autistic people less vulnerable. She closed with the key message that services need to build capacity to access healthcare early.
Our second speaker Caoimhin Mac Giolla Phadraig is a special care dentist who leads Special Care dental services. He researches oral healthcare service delivery and home care for people with neurodevelopmental conditions in Trinity College Dublin. Caomhin presented on prevention of oral disease and practical advice on how to navigate oral health services in Ireland.
He began by explaining there’s a growing awareness of autism in dental students. Phadraig also pointed to the growing number of autism friendly dental services in the country. He recommended “systematic desensitization” where patients are acclimatized to the dentist office by starting small.
by Ian Lynam - 4 December, 2019
Last updated by Ian Lynam - December 4, 2019
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