You cannot go on parent concern alone, she said. You cannot fear having these conversations with families or to refer children if you do see red flags.
Explore This IssueDecember 2008
The project appears to have determined that that there is a deceleration-not a regression-in growth of social communication skills over the second year in children with autism spectrum disorders. We are seeing these repetitive behaviors and sticky attention to objects, she said. Children who are engrossed in objects are not getting the face time, the social learning that typical children, or even children with developmental delay, are. We are also seeing that social deficits increase over the second year.
The holy grail, though, is whether intervention can pull the children out of this focus on objects and repetitive behavior and pull them away from this lack of social interaction and create a healthier pathway to improve social communication skills, she said.
We do no know very much at all about treatment programs for autism spectrum disorder, she acknowledged. We don’t have data to tell if any one of the promoted approaches is more effective than others. We also don’t know which approach is going to be ideal for which child.
It really is a challenge for families who are vulnerable and are feeling a time crunch and want to give something for their child and they want guidance. They are also in the situation of being marketed to and going on the Internet and seeing claims.
However, Dr. Morgan said there are certain attributes of programs that appear to be ingredients for success:
- Use of planned teaching opportunities, organized around relatively short periods of time.
- Sufficient amounts of adult attention, one-to-one or in small play groups.
- Educational priorities, with goals and supports targeting function and communication, behavior, social, and academic challenges.
Intensity is huge. Early is better. It has to involve the family. Goals need to be individualized, she said. She said that if the program urges family members to stay in the waiting room, she would say that would raise a red flag in her mind over the value of that program. Family involvement is essential, she said.
Red Flags and Referrals: How Otolaryngologists Can Assist Patients with Autism Spectrum Disorders
Although pediatricians are often the ones who diagnose and care for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), otolaryngologists can find themselves presented with the dual challenge and opportunity of encountering undiagnosed patients. For otolaryngologists, red flags and referrals are two useful phrases to help them appropriately treat children with ASDs.