April 14th, 2017

One thing that pediatricians are certain of is the earlier a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can be made, the sooner a child can begin receiving life-changing therapies. An early diagnosis also helps parents deal with the immense challenges they and their families face in raising a child with autism, providing them with tools to help their child learn, succeed in school, and enjoy life on through to adulthood. Dr. Michael Petrosky (Pediatric Alliance — Wexford) tells Northern Connection Magazine that early diagnosis can be elusive but is possible:

One way earlier diagnosis can be made is through the interaction between families and medical providers. “Well child” checks are important tools that not only ensure typical growth and current immunizations, but also serve to ensure that children are developing normally. It is important to bring the child to all the recommended checkups and to answer developmental questions honestly. Also, direct and routine screening for autism should be done at the age of 18-24 months. Parents/ caregivers need to bring up concerns during the visit, such as concerns for speech delay, lack of socialization and/or repetitive movements.

 

Dr. Petrosky says it takes a village to help autistic children along their unique developmental pathways and aid parents in navigating through the health care maze, the educational system, and the regulatory morass:

Currently, there are several modes of treatment that range from speech therapy to applied behavior analysis
to socialization and respite for families/caregivers. These therapies help individuals grow, learn, and become more independent. With a high prevalence of autism, more professionals are needed who have the skills required to
carry out these therapies. As the autistic child grows,
school becomes a bigger part of life. Schools can and
should help the family coordinate services and promote inclusion. Sometimes, however, the needs of the child are
not always met. With laws in place to protect individuals with disabilities, IEP’s and/or 504 plans should be commonplace with this group. If this is not happening, advocates, such as pediatricians, are available to help navigate the school system.

 

Children diagnosed with ASD and their families can take advantage of a very special place in Pittsburgh’s North Hills — The Woodlands. Dr. Petrosky sits on its Board of Directors:

This camp facility is located in Wexford and is dedicated to children and adults with disabilities and chronic illnesses. With summer camps, weekend retreats, and club programs, autistic children can learn important life skills to help them navigate the world. They can also be kids in a safe and accessible environment.

 

Read more about The Woodlands on The PediaBlog here.

Read the rest of the article from Dr. Michael Petrosky in Northern Connection Magazine here.

 

One Response to Early Diagnosis, Better Outcome

  1. I think any provider — primary care, specialist, or therapist — who accepts the challenge of managing children with classic autism must be willing to become like comedian Steve Martin’s “The Man with Two Brains.” One brain (the left brain) must remain anchored in the evidence-based and public health practices of traditional medicine. The other brain (the right brain) must be enterprising and non-judgmental enough to think and practice outside the box — to delve into promising alternative and even experimental approaches. Our parents will demand that of us — most are fierce advocates inclined to research and to aggressive interventions to effect amelioration or cure.
    I do not think autism lends itself well to controlled studies. Each autistic child is unique in his/her disabilities and strengths, hence the slogan: “One size fits none.” I think management of these special children requires research where n=1 — or as one might say, “a study of one.” Much trial and error is involved, and the provider must be willing to live with the unpredictability.

  • MEET THE EDITOR

    Ned Ketyer, M.D.

    Ned Ketyer, M.D.

    Dr. Ketyer has special interests in developmental pediatrics and preventative medicine, specifically how nutrition and the environment affect health. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Vermont and his medical degree from Northwestern University Medical School. He completed his residency at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

    As one of the founding physicians of Pediatric Alliance, PC, Dr. Ketyer served as its president from 1997-2004. He has been practicing general pediatrics at Pediatric Alliance since 1990. Dr. Ketyer and his wife have three boys and live in Pittsburgh's South Hills. 



  • Note: The information included in these posts is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice.

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