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    Monday, October 29, 2007

    I Screen, You Screen: The American Academy of Pediatrics is recommending that all children be screened for autism. They've only press-released their recommendations, however, so it's difficult to assess them. Wouldn't it be nice if professional organizations actually released their recommendations to their members before they did so to the public? It would make it so much easier for doctors to discuss the news stories with their patients. They're releasing them today at their annual conference, and later in the November issue of their journal, which is not yet available online. (Though it may be in AAP member's mailboxes.)

    Part of any well child visit is screening for developmental delays, so one has to wonder what's different about these recommendations. Are they setting lower limits for what's abnormal so that those mild cases of autism (which some argue aren't really autism or even disease) can be treated? If that's the case, then don't be surprised when a couple of years from now there's a upward spike in the number of cases of autism. And don't blame it on vaccines.

    posted by sydney on 10/29/2007 07:56:00 AM 5 comments


    I would be interested in the makeup of the panel that set the new standards and their financial ties to industry. As noted it seems to be in part a marketing scheme to make the doctors look bad and place them in a position of being forced to medicate in order to save face.

    "Well, doctor, if you do not know about the new standards how can you say little Jimmy does not need this new miracle medication that will make him the perfect child?"

    Steve Lucas

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:26 AM  

    nowadays diagnosing autism is the latest fad. just label the little brat with this. its just an excuse for bad parenting most of the time. or there is financial gain to someone. As a physician, i am not surprised so many jumping on this bandwagon, including physicians.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:00 PM  

    It would be nice if they had announced exactly what screening method that they were going to use. There are very specific signs of autism that can be quickly screened for (pointing, make-believe play, etc), that rule out other developmental delays. The Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (http://depts.washington.edu/dataproj/chat.html)
    takes a competent doctor about 3 minutes to do in the course of a regular exam, and can weed out kids who are "brats" as opposed to those who actually could benefit from early intervention. Since early intervention does seem to be the key to helping autistic children, it would save everyone one hell of a lot of money, time, and pain if the kids were able to be referred for further assessment at a young age.

    By Blogger Jen, at 6:18 AM  

    It made me chuckle to see some of the signs jen listed. You'd have to label all kids as autistic if you included make believe play. One of my best friends is an elementary school teacher and she reminds me that kids by in large need to be kids. I wonder sometimes if we as a society have forgotten that.

    By Anonymous Dara, at 9:42 PM  

    I guess that dara didn't bother to read the link...one of the points of the CHAT is that autistic kids do NOT engage in make-believe play. The classic example is asking them to pour tea from a teapot (which most 2 year olds can do), also petting a pretend dog, waving goodbye to mommy, etc. It's a quick and easy screening technique that says that children should be looked at further- it's not a diagnosis, but may enable a child to get help when it's needed.

    By Blogger Jen, at 4:52 PM  

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