Rodney Parker-Yarnal, M.D.
Why an Autism Specialist?
As a psychiatrist whose expertise and practice is caring for children and adults on the autism spectrum, Dr. Parker-Yarnal provides:
- Accurate diagnosis of autism to discern subtle autism symptoms
- Accurate diagnosis of co-occurring mood, anxiety, and behavior symptoms
- Detailed evaluation to identify the origin of a symptom to better treat it; e.g., are difficulties at school or work a symptom of:
- A mood, anxiety, or behavioral disorder
- Autism + a mood, anxiety, or behavior disorder
- Autism-specific psychotherapies and medication management for Autism symptoms and co-occurring mood, anxiety, and behavior disorders
- Relevant, autism-specific parent / caregiver education
- Social skills training and sibling support group to begin this Spring
Dr. Parker-Yarnal first encountered a child with autism during a high school service project, and ever since has felt a special affinity for people on the autism spectrum and their unique perspective, genuineness, interests, joys, struggles, and ways of communicating. This affinity widened quickly to include their families whom he finds consistently engaged and committed to the care of their loved one.
The desire to be an agent of positive change for people on the autism spectrum and their families motivated his decision to become a physician and psychiatrist, and he is proud to offer Autism Psychiatry as the culmination of this effort. He finds particular reward in the give and take that leads to understanding of each other and ourselves, guides treatment, and results in growth with the goal of contentedness.
After earning his undergraduate degree and while working on his medical school requirements, he worked in direct care positions for autistic children in dormitory and classroom settings. Then, prior to medical school, he volunteered at a shelter for homeless women and children while employed as social worker. Over the next several years, he completed medical school, psychiatry residency, and child and adolescent psychiatry fellowship. He worked as an attending physician at an inpatient psychiatric facility prior to recently moving to Miami.
His hobbies include playing acoustic guitar and mandolin, writing poetry, flying radio controlled model helicopters, and keeping up with Apple product rumors. He enjoys hiking and nature, and finds a particular kind of peace near the ocean.
As part of an international rotation in his 4th year of medical school, he spent 10 weeks in Haiti working in mobile medical clinics. While there, he and his wife started what would eventually become Moun Pou Moun (in Haitian Creole: “Person by Person” and “People for People”), a not-for-profit organization that continues to provide education and microcredit lending to deserving families. More information is available at www.mpmhaiti.org.
Bachelor of the Arts Degree in philosophy and psychology from Rockhurst University in Kansas City, MO
Doctor of Medicine from the University of Missouri in Columbia, MO
General Psychiatry Residency at Saint Louis University in Saint Louis, MO
Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Fellowship with focused training in autism at the University of California – Davis in Sacramento, CA, a highly regarded center for autism research and patient care
Philosophy of Patient Care
Whether caring for an adult patient or a child patient and family, Dr. Parker-Yarnal approaches patient care with a genuine curiosity about a patient’s experiences, goals, values, joys, and successes – and the hope and struggle that motivates them to seek treatment. After beginning to understand a patient’s circumstances, he provides education on symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment so that they understand his perspective of care for all of his patients and / or their families. He draws on mutual understanding to formulate a plan that respects a patient’s values, draws on their strengths, and addresses target symptoms and their causes. This process of mutual communication, understanding, and action continues through healing and growth into fine-tuning around personal goals – getting the most out of life for his patients and / or their families.
One way to think about autism is to understand it as a disorder diagnosed by symptoms including:
- Deficits in social communication and interaction
- Restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities
However, unlike many psychiatric disorders, autism seems to refer fundamentally to who a person is (e.g., relationship and leisure preferences), not just a symptom (e.g., depression) someone has. The labels, “deficit,” and, “restricted,” can sound and feel judgmental or even prejudiced. In contrast, Dr. Parker-Yarnal believes taking the perspective of diversity – different, not disordered – affirms the experiences, values, and strengths of the person on the autism spectrum, decreases stigma and blame, frees them and their families for more self-determined growth, and calls the rest of us to more acceptance and understanding.