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Pediatricians' Group Issues New Autism Guidelines
Date:10/29/2007

2 reports detail detection and treatment recommendations,,,,

MONDAY, Oct. 29 (HealthDay News) -- In an effort to make it easier for pediatricians to spot and begin early treatment for children with autism spectrum disorders, the American Academy of Pediatrics has released two new reports with recommendations for identifying and managing these conditions.

"Pediatricians are the front line" in identifying autism spectrum disorders, said Dr. Melissa Nishawala, clinical director of the Autism Spectrum Disorders Service at the New York University Child Study Center. "And, the earlier we find out, the swifter we can intervene when the brain is more immature, and we can help to model it in different directions.

"The tendency has been to understand that child development varies widely and to reassure the parents that some children speak late or even if they seem to be off track developmentally, that most children catch up," Nishawala added. "So, if there's a parental concern, they may get a referral, or it may take several months" of waiting to see if the child gets back on track developmentally.

The result can be that it may take a year or more before a child is officially diagnosed with autism, and a critical window in treatment time has been lost.

The reports are published in the November issue of Pediatrics; they were released Monday during the American Academy of Pediatrics annual meeting in San Francisco.

The first report, which details ways to detect autism spectrum disorders, highlights some of the earlier signs that might suggest an autism spectrum disorder. They may include:

  • A lack of warm, joyful expressions while gazing at a parent or other caregiver.
  • No back-and-forth babbling between the infant and parent beginning around 5 months of age.
  • A lack of recognition of a parent's voice or not turning when the parent says the baby's name.

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