The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) calls for developmental surveillance at every well-child visit at the nine-, 18-, 24-, and 30-month marks, as well as specific ASD screening at 18 and 24 months. However, many young children are brought to otolaryngologists because of speech or hearing problems, and otolaryngologists should know the warning signs of ASDs to facilitate timely diagnosis.
Explore This IssueDecember 2008
Red flags for ASDs include:
- Communication deficits, such as lack of speech, repetition of another’s speech, or speaking without apparent stimulus or intent.
- Social deficits, such as seldom making eye contact, often content being alone, or rarely seeking connectedness with others.
- Stereotypic behaviors, such as repetitive hand movements or rocking body movements, or even predictable patterns of play.
Even physical and genetic components factor into autism. For example, a larger head circumference has been shown to be a common physical trait among children with ASDs, and research has shown that ASDs are complex, heritable disorders, with increased risk if there is a sibling with an ASD.
However, because autism symptoms are diverse and a diagnosis requires a targeted evaluation, otolaryngologists should conduct a standard ENT evaluation and report any autism symptoms to a child’s pediatrician, with recommendations for further examination by specialists if necessary.
Referrals may perhaps result in a consultation with medical experts, including:
- Developmental pediatricians,
- Child neurologists, and
- Child psychiatrists.
Related professionals with ASD experience may also be of assistance, such as child psychologists, speech pathologists, and social workers, especially in communities lacking ASD medical specialists.
For further information, including the most recent AAP clinical report on ASDs, please visit www.aap.org/healthtopics/autism.cfm .
©2008 The Triological Society