HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Akron Univ. School of Law

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Monday, October 29, 2007

Autism Screening Recommended

The Associated Press reports that the American Academy of Pediatrics is recommending that all children be screened for autism twice by age 2.  The AP reports,

The advice is meant to help both parents and doctors spot autism sooner. There is no cure for the disorder, but experts say that early therapy can lessen its severity.

Symptoms to watch for and the call for early screening come in two new reports. They are being released by the American Academy of Pediatrics on Monday at its annual meeting in San Francisco and will appear in the November issue of the journal Pediatrics and on the group’s Web site.  . . . .

The academy’s renewed effort reflects growing awareness since its first autism guidelines in 2001. A 2006 policy statement urged autism screening for all children at their regular doctor visits at age 18 months and 24 months.  . . . .

“With awareness comes concern when there doesn’t always need to be,” he said. “These resources will help educate the reader as to which things you really need to be concerned about.”

Another educational tool, a Web site that debuted in mid-October, offers dozens of video clips of autistic kids contrasted with unaffected children’s behavior. That Web site is sponsored by two nonprofit advocacy groups: Autism Speaks and First Signs. They hope the site will promote early diagnosis and treatment to help children with autism lead more normal lives.

The two new reports say children with suspected autism should start treatment even before a formal diagnosis. They also warn parents about the special diets and alternative treatments endorsed by celebrities, saying there’s no proof those work.

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