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Key gap in med schools: training on treating patients with autism

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My drive for pursuing medicine stemmed from my relationship with my older cousin, Amir, who has an intellectual and developmental disability (IDD). As I was growing up, he helped me become more creative and compassionate, and we developed a strong bond. Though I am early along in my medical career, I have continued to seek opportunities to work alongside patients with autism and IDD and have witnessed the immense obstacles their families face. There is no reason that finding a suitable medical provider should be another one, yet access and health disparities are a grave problem for this patient population.

As a medical student, I noticed a gap in our education surrounding caring for patients with autism and IDD. I discovered Operation House Call, a program designed to ensure that medical professionals feel equipped to care for patients with autism and IDD. I was shocked to learn that few US medical schools offer education on the topic.


A bill pending in the Legislature would codify and expand Operation House Call in Massachusetts. It would give the Department of Public Health oversight of the program, and medical schools would gain certification through the state. I’m proud to say that I’ve worked with the curriculum committee at my medical school, and the program will soon begin at UMass Chan Medical School.

I have great hope that passing this bill will both help reduce the burden patients with IDD and autism face in the medical field and enrich the training of all health professionals.

Naaz Daneshvar


The writer is a third-year medical student.