Recommendations for Children with Autism

Recommendations for Children with Autism – Brief Article

Monica Preboth

Thousands of children with autism may go undiagnosed, according to a national panel of researchers who have compiled new recommendations for the American Academy of Neurology and the Child Neurology Society. Because of these missed diagnoses, the panel recommends that family physicians begin looking for autism early in infancy so that treatment can begin before the disease becomes severely debilitating. The recommendations appear in the December 1999 issue of the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.

The recommendations are based on a review of current research and back formal standards expected to be set by the associations next year.

The new recommendations include the following:

* Starting in infancy, every wellness visit to the physician should include developmental screening for autism. The researchers also recommend that professionals involved in early child care should be taught to recognize the early signs of the disorder so that children at risk can be treated as early as possible.

* Early-childhood workers, including school and day care personnel, should look for signs of autistic behavior and also for learning problems, delays in language ability, and anxiety or depression, all of which may be signs of autism.

* Health care and school personnel should talk with families about autism to get information about the child’s behavior at home and to keep them informed about treatment options.

* Workers in education should screen older children with mild symptoms of autism in classrooms and recreational settings such as playgrounds. In such settings, behavioral difficulties may be more apparent than in a physician’s office or at home.

* Physicians should dedicate more time to screening young patients whom they suspect of having autism. A thorough neurologic, hearing and speech examination should be done before making the diagnosis.

* Further research should be conducted to develop screening tools for infants and to explore the roles of brain activity, genetics and family environment in the development of autism.

COPYRIGHT 2000 American Academy of Family Physicians

COPYRIGHT 2000 Gale Group