Autistic Spectrum Disorder: Part I
Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is the new epidemic.
It was first described by Dr. Kanner in 1943 and for years
was thought to be a relatively rare disorder. Ten years ago,
the rate of occurrence was one in 2500 children. Steadily,
the rates have declined to 1:500 children, to 1:250 children,
to the current figures of 1:166 children. How or why defies
current knowledge, but we do know we have a serious, steadily
rising disorder on our hands. ASD occurs across all economic
ethnic and geographic groups. It could happen to any family
and the psychological, economic and education impact is stretching
the capacity of families, intervention agencies and schools
to meet the pressing needs of the children.
What Exactly is Autistic Spectrum Disorder?ASD is a neurological disorder, which occurs in 4 times
as many boys as girls. To acquire this diagnosis, a
child must meet several criteria, among them qualitative
impairment of verbal and nonverbal language, communication
and imaginative play.; no speech, facial expression, gestures
or pointing; unintelligible jargon, and echolalia
Making the Diagnosis:
If a child exhibits the behaviors associated with ASD, it
is imperative that he be seen by a pediatrician, pediatric
neurologist or a developmental pediatrician. The individual
must have experience with ASD and be familiar with its manifestations.
Unfortunately, at this point, there are no biochemical or
neuroradiologic studies that can determine the diagnosis
of ASD. The diagnosis is based on the observation of consistent,
atypical behaviors. #
Intervention Programs & Prognosis,
Part II, next month.
Dr. Cecelia McCarton is the founder of the
McCarton Center, a school for autistic children on E. 82nd
St. in NYC.