Friday, April 30, 2010

Children in the grip of Autism

Clip of the day:

Excerpt from story:

But, as many experts point out, autism is not simply "quirkiness" or an unusual personality trait, but a serious disorder capable of destroying families and children's futures. Like others with the condition, Adam's progress has been hard-won.

His struggles are increasingly shared by many across the United States as rates of autism continue to skyrocket. Some experts estimate that as many as 1 in 166 children born today will be diagnosed with an autistic disorder. Autism is now the second most commonly diagnosed serious developmental disability in children after mental retardation.

While the causes for the dramatic rise in cases over the past decade are the subject of much debate, one thing is certain: early diagnosis is crucial. By being aware of key symptoms to watch for, parents can help spot the disorder and, if necessary, ensure their child begins treatment.

“One of the factors in a good [autism] prognosis is early intervention,” says Dr. Sally Ozonoff, associate professor of psychiatry at the MIND Institute at the University of California, Davis. “It’s been shown pretty clearly that starting an intervention at age 3 is better than 5, or starting intervention at 2 or potentially even earlier than that is better.”

But while most experts agree that beginning treatment for autism at an early age is important, the process of diagnosing children can be fraught with difficulty and makes the goal of early treatment sometimes easier said than done.

No comments: