Tag Archives: autism

Straight, No Chaser: The Spectrum and Specter of Autism

autism_month_moving

Autism. Small word. Big effects on families. Previously, we discussed the scope and recent explosion of autism diagnoses. Here we delve into the disorders. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) isn’t a disease as much as it is a range of disorders characterized by neurological effects affecting one’s development. These effects include communication difficulties, social impairments and restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped behavioral patterns. There is a wide variation in the expression of ASD and cases may be mild or severe. ASD occurs in all ethnic, socioeconomic and age groups. You may have seen or heard of variations of ASD, particularly the following:

 ASD

  • Autistic disorder (aka autism, classical ASD): This is the most severe form of ASD.
  • Asperger syndrome: This diagnosis may be given to children with autistic behaviors who retain well-developed language skills.
  • Childhood disintegrative disorder: Childhood disintegrative disorder is diagnosed in children who had developed normally and then suddenly deteriorated (typically between three to 10 years old), showing marked autistic behaviors.
  • Pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (usually referred to as PDD-NOS): This is a diagnosis given to those children with some symptoms of an ASD but not enough to be diagnosed with classical autism.

Although the cause of ASD is not known, it’s likely that both genetics and environmental factors play a role. Brain abnormalities in those affected suggest that ASD could result from the disruption of normal brain development early in fetal development. This notion is supported by the consistent discovery of defects in genes that control brain growth and that regulate how brain cells communicate with each other. The presence of certain environmental factors can further influence the expression of the function of these genes.
It is important to note the theory that parental practices are responsible for ASD has long been disproved.
Furthermore, twin and family studies strongly suggest that some people have a genetic predisposition to autism.  Identical twin studies show that if one twin is affected, there is up to a 90% chance the other twin will be affected.  Evidence also suggests that certain emotional disorders (e.g., bipolar disorder) occur more frequently than average in the families of people with ASD.

Autism_awareness

Regarding symptoms, the hallmark feature of ASD is impaired social interaction, which may be manifested in several ways:

  • Babies with ASD may focus exclusively on one item for inordinately long periods of time, completely ignoring other people or objects.
  • A child with ASD may appear to have developed normally, then suddenly withdraw and become indifferent to social activity.
  • Children with ASD may fail to respond to their names and often avoid eye contact with other people.
  • Children with ASD often have difficulty interpreting what others are thinking or feeling because they can’t understand social cues (e.g., tone of voice or facial expressions) and don’t watch other people’s faces for clues about appropriate behavior.
  • Those with an ASD may lack empathy.

Other typical symptoms include the following:

  • Repetitive movements such as rocking or twirling
  • Self-abusive behavior such as biting or head-banging
  • Delayed speech
  • Speaking in a sing-song voice while limiting speech to a small group of favorite topics
  • Referring to self by name instead of “I” or “me”
  • Inability to play interactively with other children
  • Epilepsy (seizure disorder), seen in approximately 20-30% of children with ASD

Of course, you don’t want to wait long to get a child evaluated. Here is a laundry list of signs that an evaluation is necessary.

  • no babbling or pointing by age one
  • no single words by 16 months or two-word phrases by age two
  • no response to name
  • loss of language or social skills
  • poor eye contact
  • excessive lining up of toys or objects
  • no smiling or social responsiveness
  • impaired ability to make friends with peers
  • impaired ability to initiate or sustain a conversation with others
  • absence or impairment of imaginative and social play
  • stereotyped, repetitive, or unusual use of language
  • restricted patterns of interest that are abnormal in intensity or focus
  • preoccupation with certain objects or subjects
  • inflexible adherence to specific routines or rituals

If you have a loved one with suggestive symptoms, please arrange for early evaluation. The team involved will often have to address speed, psychiatric and neurological needs. Screening, early evaluation and treatment across the spectrum of symptoms offers the best opportunity for those affected to approximate a normal life.
Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.
Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!
Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2018 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: The Spectrum and Specter of Autism

autism_month_moving

Autism. Small word. Big effects on families. Previously, we discussed the scope and recent explosion of autism diagnoses. Here we delve into the disorders. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) isn’t a disease as much as it is a range of disorders characterized by neurological effects affecting one’s development. These effects include communication difficulties, social impairments and restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped behavioral patterns. There is a wide variation in the expression of ASD and cases may be mild or severe. ASD occurs in all ethnic, socioeconomic and age groups. You may have seen or heard of variations of ASD, particularly the following:

 ASD

  • Autistic disorder (aka autism, classical ASD): This is the most severe form of ASD.
  • Asperger syndrome: This diagnosis may be given to children with autistic behaviors who retain well-developed language skills.
  • Childhood disintegrative disorder: Childhood disintegrative disorder is diagnosed in children who had developed normally and then suddenly deteriorated (typically between three to 10 years old), showing marked autistic behaviors.
  • Pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (usually referred to as PDD-NOS): This is a diagnosis given to those children with some symptoms of an ASD but not enough to be diagnosed with classical autism.

Although the cause of ASD is not known, it’s likely that both genetics and environmental factors play a role. Brain abnormalities in those affected suggest that ASD could result from the disruption of normal brain development early in fetal development. This notion is supported by the consistent discovery of defects in genes that control brain growth and that regulate how brain cells communicate with each other. The presence of certain environmental factors can further influence the expression of the function of these genes.
It is important to note the theory that parental practices are responsible for ASD has long been disproved.
Furthermore, twin and family studies strongly suggest that some people have a genetic predisposition to autism.  Identical twin studies show that if one twin is affected, there is up to a 90% chance the other twin will be affected.  Evidence also suggests that certain emotional disorders (e.g., bipolar disorder) occur more frequently than average in the families of people with ASD.

Autism_awareness

Regarding symptoms, the hallmark feature of ASD is impaired social interaction, which may be manifested in several ways:

  • Babies with ASD may focus exclusively on one item for inordinately long periods of time, completely ignoring other people or objects.
  • A child with ASD may appear to have developed normally, then suddenly withdraw and become indifferent to social activity.
  • Children with ASD may fail to respond to their names and often avoid eye contact with other people.
  • Children with ASD often have difficulty interpreting what others are thinking or feeling because they can’t understand social cues (e.g., tone of voice or facial expressions) and don’t watch other people’s faces for clues about appropriate behavior.
  • Those with an ASD may lack empathy.

Other typical symptoms include the following:

  • Repetitive movements such as rocking or twirling
  • Self-abusive behavior such as biting or head-banging
  • Delayed speech
  • Speaking in a sing-song voice while limiting speech to a small group of favorite topics
  • Referring to self by name instead of “I” or “me”
  • Inability to play interactively with other children
  • Epilepsy (seizure disorder), seen in approximately 20-30% of children with ASD

Of course, you don’t want to wait long to get a child evaluated. Here is a laundry list of signs that an evaluation is necessary.

  • no babbling or pointing by age one
  • no single words by 16 months or two-word phrases by age two
  • no response to name
  • loss of language or social skills
  • poor eye contact
  • excessive lining up of toys or objects
  • no smiling or social responsiveness
  • impaired ability to make friends with peers
  • impaired ability to initiate or sustain a conversation with others
  • absence or impairment of imaginative and social play
  • stereotyped, repetitive, or unusual use of language
  • restricted patterns of interest that are abnormal in intensity or focus
  • preoccupation with certain objects or subjects
  • inflexible adherence to specific routines or rituals

If you have a loved one with suggestive symptoms, please arrange for early evaluation. The team involved will often have to address speed, psychiatric and neurological needs. Screening, early evaluation and treatment across the spectrum of symptoms offers the best opportunity for those affected to approximate a normal life.
Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.
Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!
Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2017 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress
 

Straight, No Chaser: The Rapid Explosion of Autism Diagnoses – A Good or Bad Thing?

autism-hands

Sometimes it’s really good to be a physician, especially when it comes to care of children. On multiple occasions I’ve saved a few thousands of dollars in costs by being able to address a situation at home. I can recall two instances in which poorly qualified, non-physician professionals tried to label my children with specific diagnoses. After my then three-year-old son defended himself from a child trying to take a toy from him, one consulting counselor suggested that I pay $200/hour to get him help for his “aggressive tendencies.” (His “symptoms” remarkably disappeared when I removed him from the environment.) When my otherwise normal daughter displayed signs of delaying speaking, another “professional” immediately wanted to label her autistic. In case you’re wondering, I’m not the guy who marches into everyone’s office and announces that I’m a physician. It’s much more interesting to observe the difference in the first and second conversations (you know, the one after they discover you know something…).
Regarding autism, it is a condition that strikes fear into the heart of many, not just because of the condition itself. It’s the lack of knowledge about the condition. It’s the uncertainty about whether a newborn child will be affected just because we’re having children at older ages. It’s the possibility that common environmental exposures could be contributing to the increase in the condition.

autism-in-toddlers

I’m going to approach this two-part series on autism in reverse order. Instead of simply discussing the basics about autism, I’m going to discuss the recent increases in autism rates. It is very important that you read past the headlines on this. Hopefully you’ll come to a better understanding.
In March of 2012 (the most recently updated dataset), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that one of 88 eight-years-olds would have one of the various forms of autism spectrum disorder. Another CDC study that was just released reveals that autism rates now affect one of every 68 eight-year-old children. This is a 30% increase in just two years!
Many of you are aware of some of the controversial claims about possible causes of autism. Regardless of the believability of unproven claims, it is entirely probable that some good has come from shining a spotlight on autism. It is without question that the enhanced attention has resulted in more attention being paid to children with suggestive symptoms. This recent trend in more aggressive diagnoses is resulting in more attention being given to those in need with better outcomes over the long haul.
There is no cure for autism. This may be true and depressing, but it doesn’t have to be. Generally, interventions tend to focus on eliminating symptoms and producing desired outcomes (such as those that will increase independent living and functioning). Coordination of strategies is important, so the use of multiple professionals working as a team is common. The good news is, for many children, symptoms improve with early treatment and with age.  Those with one of the forms of autism will usually continue to need services and supports throughout their lives, but many are able to work successfully and live independently or within a supportive environment. Also, please note: The earlier the diagnosis is made and treatment is started, the better one’s outcome is likely to be.
I have just understated a point that I will take a few words to revisit. There is no cure for autism. Please don’t fall prey to claims of therapies and interventions that promise a quick fix. These claims are invariably are not supported by scientific studies. They are acting on your hopes and preying on your fears. The details of treatment strategies are further discussed at www.sterlingmedicaladvice.com.
The next post will focus on the diagnosis and symptoms of autism.
 

Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.
Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!
Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2017 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: The Spectrum and Specter of Autism

autism_month_moving

Autism. Small word. Big effects on families. Previously, we discussed the scope and recent explosion of autism diagnoses. Here we delve into the disorders. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) isn’t a disease as much as it is a range of disorders characterized by neurological effects affecting one’s development. These effects include communication difficulties, social impairments and restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped behavioral patterns. There is a wide variation in the expression of ASD and cases may be mild or severe. ASD occurs in all ethnic, socioeconomic and age groups. You may have seen or heard of variations of ASD, particularly the following:

 ASD

  • Autistic disorder (aka autism, classical ASD): This is the most severe form of ASD.
  • Asperger syndrome: This diagnosis may be given to children with autistic behaviors who retain well-developed language skills.
  • Childhood disintegrative disorder: Childhood disintegrative disorder is diagnosed in children who had developed normally and then suddenly deteriorated (typically between three to 10 years old), showing marked autistic behaviors.
  • Pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (usually referred to as PDD-NOS): This is a diagnosis given to those children with some symptoms of an ASD but not enough to be diagnosed with classical autism.

Although the cause of ASD is not known, it’s likely that both genetics and environmental factors play a role. Brain abnormalities in those affected suggest that ASD could result from the disruption of normal brain development early in fetal development. This notion is supported by the consistent discovery of defects in genes that control brain growth and that regulate how brain cells communicate with each other. The presence of certain environmental factors can further influence the expression of the function of these genes.
It is important to note the theory that parental practices are responsible for ASD has long been disproved.
Furthermore, twin and family studies strongly suggest that some people have a genetic predisposition to autism.  Identical twin studies show that if one twin is affected, there is up to a 90% chance the other twin will be affected.  Evidence also suggests that certain emotional disorders (e.g., bipolar disorder) occur more frequently than average in the families of people with ASD.

Autism_awareness

Regarding symptoms, the hallmark feature of ASD is impaired social interaction, which may be manifested in several ways:

  • Babies with ASD may focus exclusively on one item for inordinately long periods of time, completely ignoring other people or objects.
  • A child with ASD may appear to have developed normally, then suddenly withdraw and become indifferent to social activity.
  • Children with ASD may fail to respond to their names and often avoid eye contact with other people.
  • Children with ASD often have difficulty interpreting what others are thinking or feeling because they can’t understand social cues (e.g., tone of voice or facial expressions) and don’t watch other people’s faces for clues about appropriate behavior.
  • Those with an ASD may lack empathy.

Other typical symptoms include the following:

  • Repetitive movements such as rocking or twirling
  • Self-abusive behavior such as biting or head-banging
  • Delayed speech
  • Speaking in a sing-song voice while limiting speech to a small group of favorite topics
  • Referring to self by name instead of “I” or “me”
  • Inability to play interactively with other children
  • Epilepsy (seizure disorder), seen in approximately 20-30% of children with ASD

Of course, you don’t want to wait long to get a child evaluated. Here is a laundry list of signs that an evaluation is necessary.

  • no babbling or pointing by age one
  • no single words by 16 months or two-word phrases by age two
  • no response to name
  • loss of language or social skills
  • poor eye contact
  • excessive lining up of toys or objects
  • no smiling or social responsiveness
  • impaired ability to make friends with peers
  • impaired ability to initiate or sustain a conversation with others
  • absence or impairment of imaginative and social play
  • stereotyped, repetitive, or unusual use of language
  • restricted patterns of interest that are abnormal in intensity or focus
  • preoccupation with certain objects or subjects
  • inflexible adherence to specific routines or rituals

If you have a loved one with suggestive symptoms, please arrange for early evaluation. The team involved will often have to address speed, psychiatric and neurological needs. Screening, early evaluation and treatment across the spectrum of symptoms offers the best opportunity for those affected to approximate a normal life.

Straight, No Chaser: The Rapid Explosion of Autism Diagnoses – A Good or Bad Thing?

autism-hands

Sometimes it’s really good to be a physician, especially when it comes to care of children. Just yesterday I saved myself a few thousands of dollars in costs by being able to address a situation at home. I can recall two instances in which poorly qualified, non-physician professionals tried to label my children with specific diagnoses. After my then three-year-old son defended himself from a child trying to take a toy from him, one consulting counselor suggested that I pay $200/hour to get him help for his “aggressive tendencies.” (His “symptoms” remarkably disappeared when I removed him from the environment.) When my otherwise normal daughter displayed signs of delaying speaking, another “professional” immediately wanted to label her autistic. In case you’re wondering, I’m not the guy who marches into everyone’s office and announces that I’m a physician. It’s much more interesting to observe the difference in the first and second conversations (you know, the one after they discover you know something…).
Regarding autism, it is a condition that strikes fear into the heart of many, not just because of the condition itself. It’s the lack of knowledge about the condition. It’s the uncertainty about whether a newborn child will be affected just because we’re having children at older ages. It’s the possibility that common environmental exposures could be contributing to the increase in the condition.

autism-in-toddlers

I’m going to approach this two-part series on autism in reverse order. Instead of simply discussing the basics about autism, I’m going to discuss the recent increases in autism rates. It is very important that you read past the headlines on this. Hopefully you’ll come to a better understanding.
In March of 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that one of 88 eight-years-olds would have one of the various forms of autism spectrum disorder. Another CDC study that was just released reveals that autism rates now affect one of every 68 eight-year-old children. This is a 30% increase in just two years!
Many of you are aware of some of the controversial claims about possible causes of autism. Regardless of the believability of unproven claims, it is entirely probable that some good has come from shining a spotlight on autism. It is without question that the enhanced attention has resulted in more attention being paid to children with suggestive symptoms. This recent trend in more aggressive diagnoses is resulting in more attention being given to those in need with better outcomes over the long haul.
There is no cure for autism. This may be true and depressing, but it doesn’t have to be. Generally, interventions tend to focus on eliminating symptoms and producing desired outcomes (such as those that will increase independent living and functioning). Coordination of strategies is important, so the use of multiple professionals working as a team is common. The good news is, for many children, symptoms improve with early treatment and with age.  Those with one of the forms of autism will usually continue to need services and supports throughout their lives, but many are able to work successfully and live independently or within a supportive environment. Also, please note: The earlier the diagnosis is made and treatment is started, the better one’s outcome is likely to be.
I have just understated a point that I will take a few words to revisit. There is no cure for autism. Please don’t fall prey to claims of therapies and interventions that promise a quick fix. These claims are invariably are not supported by scientific studies. They are acting on your hopes and preying on your fears. The details of treatment strategies are further discussed at www.sterlingmedicaladvice.com.
The next post will focus on the diagnosis and symptoms of autism.
Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.
Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new book Behind The Curtain: A Peek at Life from within the ER at jeffreysterlingbooks.com, iTunes, Amazon, Barnes and Nobles and wherever books are sold.
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2016 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: The Spectrum and Specter of Autism

autism_month_moving

Autism. Small word. Big effects on families. Previously, we discussed the scope and recent explosion of autism diagnoses. Here we delve into the disorders. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) isn’t a disease as much as it is a range of disorders characterized by neurological effects affecting one’s development. These effects include communication difficulties, social impairments and restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped behavioral patterns. There is a wide variation in the expression of ASD and cases may be mild or severe. ASD occurs in all ethnic, socioeconomic and age groups. You may have seen or heard of variations of ASD, particularly the following:

 ASD

  • Autistic disorder (aka autism, classical ASD): This is the most severe form of ASD.
  • Asperger syndrome: This diagnosis may be given to children with autistic behaviors who retain well-developed language skills.
  • Childhood disintegrative disorder: Childhood disintegrative disorder is diagnosed in children who had developed normally and then suddenly deteriorated (typically between three to 10 years old), showing marked autistic behaviors.
  • Pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (usually referred to as PDD-NOS): This is a diagnosis given to those children with some symptoms of an ASD but not enough to be diagnosed with classical autism.

Although the cause of ASD is not known, it’s likely that both genetics and environmental factors play a role. Brain abnormalities in those affected suggest that ASD could result from the disruption of normal brain development early in fetal development. This notion is supported by the consistent discovery of defects in genes that control brain growth and that regulate how brain cells communicate with each other. The presence of certain environmental factors can further influence the expression of the function of these genes.
It is important to note the theory that parental practices are responsible for ASD has long been disproved.
Furthermore, twin and family studies strongly suggest that some people have a genetic predisposition to autism.  Identical twin studies show that if one twin is affected, there is up to a 90% chance the other twin will be affected.  Evidence also suggests that certain emotional disorders (e.g., bipolar disorder) occur more frequently than average in the families of people with ASD.

Autism_awareness

Regarding symptoms, the hallmark feature of ASD is impaired social interaction, which may be manifested in several ways:

  • Babies with ASD may focus exclusively on one item for inordinately long periods of time, completely ignoring other people or objects.
  • A child with ASD may appear to have developed normally, then suddenly withdraw and become indifferent to social activity.
  • Children with ASD may fail to respond to their names and often avoid eye contact with other people.
  • Children with ASD often have difficulty interpreting what others are thinking or feeling because they can’t understand social cues (e.g., tone of voice or facial expressions) and don’t watch other people’s faces for clues about appropriate behavior.
  • Those with an ASD may lack empathy.

Other typical symptoms include the following:

  • Repetitive movements such as rocking or twirling
  • Self-abusive behavior such as biting or head-banging
  • Delayed speech
  • Speaking in a sing-song voice while limiting speech to a small group of favorite topics
  • Referring to self by name instead of “I” or “me”
  • Inability to play interactively with other children
  • Epilepsy (seizure disorder), seen in approximately 20-30% of children with ASD

Of course, you don’t want to wait long to get a child evaluated. Here is a laundry list of signs that an evaluation is necessary.

  • no babbling or pointing by age one
  • no single words by 16 months or two-word phrases by age two
  • no response to name
  • loss of language or social skills
  • poor eye contact
  • excessive lining up of toys or objects
  • no smiling or social responsiveness
  • impaired ability to make friends with peers
  • impaired ability to initiate or sustain a conversation with others
  • absence or impairment of imaginative and social play
  • stereotyped, repetitive, or unusual use of language
  • restricted patterns of interest that are abnormal in intensity or focus
  • preoccupation with certain objects or subjects
  • inflexible adherence to specific routines or rituals

If you have a loved one with suggestive symptoms, please arrange for early evaluation. The team involved will often have to address speed, psychiatric and neurological needs. Screening, early evaluation and treatment across the spectrum of symptoms offers the best opportunity for those affected to approximate a normal life.
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, Facebook @ SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2015 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: The Rapid Explosion of Autism Diagnoses – A Good or Bad Thing?

autism-hands

Sometimes it’s really good to be a physician, especially when it comes to care of children. Just yesterday I saved myself a few thousands of dollars in costs by being able to address a situation at home. I can recall two instances in which poorly qualified, non-physician professionals tried to label my children with specific diagnoses. After my then three-year-old son defended himself from a child trying to take a toy from him, one consulting counselor suggested that I pay $200/hour to get him help for his “aggressive tendencies.” (His “symptoms” remarkably disappeared when I removed him from the environment.) When my otherwise normal daughter displayed signs of delaying speaking, another “professional” immediately wanted to label her autistic. In case you’re wondering, I’m not the guy who marches into everyone’s office and announces that I’m a physician. It’s much more interesting to observe the difference in the first and second conversations (you know, the one after they discover you know something…).
Regarding autism, it is a condition that strikes fear into the heart of many, not just because of the condition itself. It’s the lack of knowledge about the condition. It’s the uncertainty about whether a newborn child will be affected just because we’re having children at older ages. It’s the possibility that common environmental exposures could be contributing to the increase in the condition.

autism-in-toddlers

I’m going to approach this two-part series on autism in reverse order. Instead of simply discussing the basics about autism, I’m going to discuss the recent increases in autism rates. It is very important that you read past the headlines on this. Hopefully you’ll come to a better understanding.
In March of 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that one of 88 eight-years-olds would have one of the various forms of autism spectrum disorder. Another CDC study that was just released reveals that autism rates now affect one of every 68 eight-year-old children. This is a 30% increase in just two years!
Many of you are aware of some of the controversial claims about possible causes of autism. Regardless of the believability of unproven claims, it is entirely probable that some good has come from shining a spotlight on autism. It is without question that the enhanced attention has resulted in more attention being paid to children with suggestive symptoms. This recent trend in more aggressive diagnoses is resulting in more attention being given to those in need with better outcomes over the long haul.
There is no cure for autism. This may be true and depressing, but it doesn’t have to be. Generally, interventions tend to focus on eliminating symptoms and producing desired outcomes (such as those that will increase independent living and functioning). Coordination of strategies is important, so the use of multiple professionals working as a team is common. The good news is, for many children, symptoms improve with early treatment and with age.  Those with one of the forms of autism will usually continue to need services and supports throughout their lives, but many are able to work successfully and live independently or within a supportive environment. Also, please note: The earlier the diagnosis is made and treatment is started, the better one’s outcome is likely to be.
I have just understated a point that I will take a few words to revisit. There is no cure for autism. Please don’t fall prey to claims of therapies and interventions that promise a quick fix. These claims are invariably are not supported by scientific studies. They are acting on your hopes and preying on your fears. The details of treatment strategies are further discussed at www.sterlingmedicaladvice.com.
The next post will focus on the diagnosis and symptoms of autism.
This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, Facebook @ SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and Twitter at @asksterlingmd. Please like and share our blog with your family and friends. We’re here for you 24/7 with immediate, personalized information and advice. Call your Personal Healthcare Consultant at 1-844-SMA-TALK or login tohttp://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com.
Copyright © 2015 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: The Spectrum and Specter of Autism

autism_month_moving

Autism. Small word. Big effects on families. Previously, we discussed the scope and recent explosion of autism diagnoses. Here we delve into the disorders. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) isn’t a disease as much as it is a range of disorders characterized by neurological effects affecting one’s development. These effects include communication difficulties, social impairments and restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped behavioral patterns. There is a wide variation in the expression of ASD and cases may be mild or severe. ASD occurs in all ethnic, socioeconomic and age groups. You may have seen or heard of variations of ASD, particularly the following:

 ASD

  • Autistic disorder (aka autism, classical ASD): This is the most severe form of ASD.
  • Asperger syndrome: This diagnosis may be given to children with autistic behaviors who retain well-developed language skills.
  • Childhood disintegrative disorder: Childhood disintegrative disorder is diagnosed in children who had developed normally and then suddenly deteriorated (typically between three to 10 years old), showing marked autistic behaviors.
  • Pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (usually referred to as PDD-NOS): This is a diagnosis given to those children with some symptoms of an ASD but not enough to be diagnosed with classical autism.

Although the cause of ASD is not known, it’s likely that both genetics and environmental factors play a role. Brain abnormalities in those affected suggest that ASD could result from the disruption of normal brain development early in fetal development. This notion is supported by the consistent discovery of defects in genes that control brain growth and that regulate how brain cells communicate with each other. The presence of certain environmental factors can further influence the expression of the function of these genes.
It is important to note the theory that parental practices are responsible for ASD has long been disproved.
Furthermore, twin and family studies strongly suggest that some people have a genetic predisposition to autism.  Identical twin studies show that if one twin is affected, there is up to a 90% chance the other twin will be affected.  Evidence also suggests that certain emotional disorders (e.g., bipolar disorder) occur more frequently than average in the families of people with ASD.
Regarding symptoms, the hallmark feature of ASD is impaired social interaction, which may be manifested in several ways:

  • Babies with ASD may focus exclusively on one item for inordinately long periods of time, completely ignoring other people or objects.
  • A child with ASD may appear to have developed normally, then suddenly withdraw and become indifferent to social activity.
  • Children with ASD may fail to respond to their names and often avoid eye contact with other people.
  • Children with ASD often have difficulty interpreting what others are thinking or feeling because they can’t understand social cues (e.g., tone of voice or facial expressions) and don’t watch other people’s faces for clues about appropriate behavior.
  • Those with an ASD may lack empathy.

Other typical symptoms include the following:

  • Repetitive movements such as rocking or twirling
  • Self-abusive behavior such as biting or head-banging
  • Delayed speech
  • Speaking in a sing-song voice while limiting speech to a small group of favorite topics
  • Referring to self by name instead of “I” or “me”
  • Inability to play interactively with other children
  • Epilepsy (seizure disorder), seen in approximately 20-30% of children with ASD

Of course, you don’t want to wait long to get a child evaluated. Here is a laundry list of signs that an evaluation is necessary.

  • no babbling or pointing by age one
  • no single words by 16 months or two-word phrases by age two
  • no response to name
  • loss of language or social skills
  • poor eye contact
  • excessive lining up of toys or objects
  • no smiling or social responsiveness
  • impaired ability to make friends with peers
  • impaired ability to initiate or sustain a conversation with others
  • absence or impairment of imaginative and social play
  • stereotyped, repetitive, or unusual use of language
  • restricted patterns of interest that are abnormal in intensity or focus
  • preoccupation with certain objects or subjects
  • inflexible adherence to specific routines or rituals

If you have a loved one with suggestive symptoms, please arrange for early evaluation. The team involved will often have to address speed, psychiatric and neurological needs. Screening, early evaluation and treatment across the spectrum of symptoms offers the best opportunity for those affected to approximate a normal life.
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Straight, No Chaser: The Rapid Explosion of Autism Diagnoses – A Good or Bad Thing?

autism-hands

Sometimes it’s really good to be a physician. I can recall two instances in which poorly qualified, non-physician professionals tried to label my children with specific diagnoses. After my then three-year-old son defended himself from a child trying to take a toy from him, one consulting counselor suggested that I pay $200/hour to get him help for his “aggressive tendencies.” (His “symptoms” remarkably disappeared when I removed him from the environment.) When my otherwise normal daughter displayed signs of delaying speaking, another “professional” immediately wanted to label her autistic. In case you’re wondering, I’m not the guy who marches into everyone’s office and announces that I’m a physician. It’s much more interesting to observe the difference in the first and second conversations (you know, the one after they discover you know something…).
Regarding autism, it is a condition that strikes fear into the heart of many, not just because of the condition itself. It’s the lack of knowledge about the condition. It’s the uncertainty about whether a newborn child will be affected just because we’re having children at older ages. It’s the possibility that common environmental exposures could be contributing to the increase in the condition.

autism-in-toddlers

I’m going to approach this two-part series on autism in reverse order. Instead of simply discussing the basics about autism, I’m going to discuss the recent increases in autism rates. It is very important that you read past the headlines on this. Hopefully you’ll come to a better understanding.
In March of 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that one of 88 eight-years-olds would have one of the various forms of autism spectrum disorder. Another CDC study that was just released reveals that autism rates now affect one of every 68 eight-year-old children. This is a 30% increase in just two years!
Many of you are aware of some of the controversial claims about possible causes of autism. Regardless of the believability of unproven claims, it is entirely probable that some good has come from shining a spotlight on autism. It is without question that the enhanced attention has resulted in more attention being paid to children with suggestive symptoms. This recent trend in more aggressive diagnoses is resulting in more attention being given to those in need with better outcomes over the long haul.
There is no cure for autism. This may be true and depressing, but it doesn’t have to be. Generally, interventions tend to focus on eliminating symptoms and producing desired outcomes (such as those that will increase independent living and functioning). Coordination of strategies is important, so the use of multiple professionals working as a team is common. The good news is, for many children, symptoms improve with early treatment and with age.  Those with one of the forms of autism will usually continue to need services and supports throughout their lives, but many are able to work successfully and live independently or within a supportive environment. Also, please note: The earlier the diagnosis is made and treatment is started, the better one’s outcome is likely to be.
I have just understated a point that I will take a few words to revisit. There is no cure for autism. Please don’t fall prey to claims of therapies and interventions that promise a quick fix. These claims are invariably are not supported by scientific studies. They are acting on your hopes and preying on your fears. The details of treatment strategies are further discussed at www.sterlingmedicaladvice.com.
The next post will focus on the diagnosis and symptoms of autism.
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