U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Regina Benjamin, is confirmed to speak at the 10th annual Developmental Disabilities Conference sponsored by University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) on March 10th. As the national spokesperson for health care in America, this is a unique opportunity to hear her address the needs of this population. I will be interested to hear her views on health care reform and how it should impact those with developmental disabilities. She could address the significant increase in autism over the last decade, the latest advancements in early screening for Down syndrome, or even inadequate insurance reimbursement. However, I hope that with her background in community medicine and primary care, that she will focus on the people with the greatest need, those who have limited financial resources and support.

As a pioneer in Telemedicine, medical education and specialty health care made available to patients and clinicians in rural and medically under-served areas through a private telecommunications network, she has seen the power of integrating technology with modern medicine. It is just this type of innovative problem solving that is essential to impact gaps in health care services for the special needs population. While technology is frequently utilized in accommodation solutions, it is the medical profession itself that is in need of accommodations to better serve those with behavioral challenges, communication deficits, and complex acute and chronic medical issues that are often misdiagnosed due to a lack of knowledge about developmental disabilities. I hope Dr. Benjamin has not lost sight of needs of those who are most vulnerable and the medical professionals who serve them.