Has the increased incidence of Autism in America come about because there are external factors that result in more cases, or is the higher percentage being reported a result of better record keeping or the expanded definitions on the spectrum?
There is no one definitive argument. But one fact is indisputable, the earlier the diagnosis, the sooner treatment can start and take advantage of developmental stages, "windows" of opportunity that will pass when a child is diagnosed later than two.
Micah Mazurek, a clinical psychologist and expert in the field at the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia, believes the key to early intervention is training doctors, nurses and other health care providers to recognize the symptoms of ASD and route parents to centers for treatment.
Mazurek advocates getting a diagnosis as soon as possible; she says, "These interventions help autistic children learn the skills they need to communicate, interact with others and manage their behavior.
Along with colleagues at the University of Missouri, Mazurek has tested a pilot program called ECHO Autism , which provides training in diagnosis and treatment to primary care physicians and others who treat children through video-conferencing. Modeled after a program from the University of Mexico that helped providers in that state get access to care for Hepatitus C patients who were underserved.
They assembled a group of experts who presented case studies and lectures and the participating pediatricians, primary care doctors and others could interact with the panel and increase their knowledge base to help their own patients. Encouraged by the success of the initial program, Mazurek has secured funding to expand the access to the tele-conferences to a wider base.
She hopes to give access to the underserved populations in rural areas, economically distressed, language barriers, homeless and others. The National Institutes of Health maintains that," There is emerging consensus that early diagnosis and information are needed in order that an autism-friendly environment be "created" around affected individuals.
Demand for health care delivery professionals trained in Autism treatment is increasing. Contact us to find what positions are available. If interested in learning more about this and related topics, visit the Behavioral Health section of our blog.
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