Dr. Roxanne Dryden-Edwards is an adult, child, and adolescent psychiatrist. She is a former Chair of the Committee on Developmental Disabilities for the American Psychiatric Association, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, and Medical Director of the National Center for Children and Families in Bethesda, Maryland.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
A pediatrician will refer the caregiver and the child to a specialist in developmental disorders for the assessment. Some people may want to have this specialist treat their child's condition, but they are free to seek treatment elsewhere.
There is no standard treatment for autism, and
different professionals have different philosophies and practices in caring
for their patients.
You may want to talk to more than one specialist to
find the one with whom you feel most comfortable.
Ask family members, friends, and the health care
practitioner to obtain referrals. Call autism groups or check the Internet for referral services.
When seeking a specialist to treat a child's autism, the opportunity should be available to ask questions and discuss the treatments available to the child. Be aware of all the options so that an informed decision can be made.
A reputable specialist will present each type of
treatment, provide the pros and cons, and make recommendations based on published
treatment guidelines and his or her own experience.
The decision of which treatment to pursue is made
with this specialist (with input from other members of the professional care team) and
family members, but the decision is ultimately the caregivers'.
to understand exactly what will be done and why, and what can be expected from the choices.
There is no cure for autism, nor is there a standard therapy that works for all people with autism. A number of different treatment approaches have evolved over time as we have learned more about autism.
Different approaches work for different people.
Accepted interventions may work for some and not for others.
Different professionals, each with excellent
credentials and experience, may disagree about what is the best
approach for the child.
As a parent or caregiver, one will learn to weigh each treatment recommendation in light of what he or she knows about their child and what makes sense for him or her.
Whatever approach is used for the child, an individualized treatment plan designed to meet his or her unique needs is essential.
Most people with autism show developmental progress
and respond to a combination of treatment and education.
The traditional approach for a child with autism includes special education and behavioral management. There is some evidence that the earlier behavioral, educational, speech, and occupational therapy is begun, the better the long-term outcome. This is often an intensive and long-term commitment, and there is no easy answer. Behavioral treatments, medications, and other treatments may help manage some of the problems associated with autism.
Treatment strategies used in autism include
behavioral, educational, biomedical, and complementary therapies. Some of these
are supported by scientific studies, while others are not. It is important to
discuss and consider the research support for the treatments chosen.
Autism is a condition that manifests in early childhoodand is characterized by qualitative abnormalities in social interactions, marked aberrant communication skills, and restricted repetitive and stereotyped behaviors.