Improving Lives and Easing Stress with Telemedicine
Eighteen-year-old Rueben has autism. He also has DiGeorge syndrome. This rare genetic condition causes behavioral and neurological symptoms that make it hard for him to adapt to stressful situations. At home, Rueben loves to draw, paint and sing along with his favorite TV shows. Outside of home, triggers like being stuck in the car and encountering unfamiliar people and places cause him fear and anxiety that lead to aggression.
Rueben’s mom Shannon relies on specialists from geneticists to cardiologists and neurologists at Children’s National Hospital for his care. They also care for Rueben’s siblings, 4-year-old Sariyah, who also has the genetic disorder, and 6-year old Caleb, who is autistic. The 80-mile round trip to get to appointments, however, presents a challenge. “Long car rides with Rueben have always been a nightmare,” she says. “Half the time we don’t even get there.”
Well before the global COVID-19 pandemic, our telemedicine program gave Shannon easy access to the specialists she needs — for instance to consult with Dr. Marc DiFazio (via video conference) about test results, Rueben’s behavior and adjustments to his medications. The program also gives Shannon hours back that would otherwise have been spent driving and navigating crowded elevators, hallways and waiting rooms with three special-needs children. Telemedicine enables her younger children to spend less time around other potentially sick children. It also limits Rueben’s exposure to situations and places that he finds overwhelming.
“Children’s National has helped my kids in a mighty way,” she says.