Author: Charles A. Cowan, MD

New Guidelines for Birth to Three Services in Washington State

The Washington State Department of Early Learning recently released new guidelines that are designed to provide direction for birth to three centers to better support children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in Washington State. Importantly, the guidelines also include children who are suspected of having ASD not just those with a formal diagnosis. This is critical because many children have not been eligible for autism-specific services until they have a formal diagnosis and the wait list at specialty diagnostic clinics is often months long. These guidelines are a result of a collaborative effort by the Early Support for Infants and Toddlers at the Department of Early Learning and the Haring Center for Applied Research and Training in Education at the University of Washington. Read full post »

Why the Sharp Rise in Autism Rates?

A while back The Autism Blog received a comment from someone who suggested that the sharp rise in autism rates is a direct result of people wanting to make money. The person who posted this comment seemed quite frustrated by the apparent increase in the number of people being diagnosed with autism. I can thoroughly identify with and appreciate his or her frustration.

So, let’s take a deeper look at the issue. There is no doubt that the diagnosis of autism has increased tremendously in the past 15 years. And, are there undoubtedly people who have made money from many parents confused, frustrated and angry about this condition. That makes me sad and a bit angry as well. Nevertheless, to tarnish the entire professional community is unfair and inaccurate.  Read full post »

A Day in the Life- with Charles Cowan, MD

I’ve been spending time reading the blog posts of my friend and colleague Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson, also known as Seattle Mama Doc. Wendy Sue is a formidable blogger. Frankly I’m jealous as I don’t know how she manages to write so much, so well and with such heart and humor. What I find so engaging about her posts is how personal and real they seem to me. She’s frequently describing situations in terms of her life as a pediatrician and a mother. The Autism Blog that we at the Seattle Children’s Autism Center have been producing is a group effort. Many of us have written blogs about issues we want to share with the general public, but sometimes our blog seems to lack the personal touch that we all feel as members of the Center. Thinking that, here is my contribution on a more personal note.  Read full post »

What Can Basic Science Teach Us About Autism?

I recently read a fascinating book, The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee.  This year’s Pulitzer Prize winner for non-fiction is an extraordinary account starting with a discussion of the history of cancer from ancient times and rapidly moving to a discussion of the history of leukemia dating from the mid-19th century. The tale then moves rapidly to review the work of the “father of chemotherapy”, Sydney Farber, in the early and late 1940s.

This book is amazing because it is a serious science and medical history, yet it is engaging, even thrilling to read. Needless to say as a physician, I’m fascinated with medicine and science and as a former college history major, I love what history can teach us that we can apply today. If you take the time to read this, you’ll learn how a complex human disorder that potentially can affect us all has been understood piece by piece and to an extraordinary extent has been successfully treated, and in some cases, even “cured”. Read full post »

Choosing a Biomedical Therapy and Autism

Many times when families see me, they ask what therapies they should try for their child. Unfortunately, there is no absolutely prescribed therapy or set of therapies for any child on the autism spectrum. Wouldn’t it be great if an easy roadmap to therapy existed in the dizzying world of therapy for children with autism? Wouldn’t it be great if the answers for how to treat a child (or adult) with autism were as easy as using an antibiotic for strep throat? Unfortunately children with autism spectrum disorders are so varied and their symptoms and problems are so diverse that choosing a single or many therapies is daunting.  Read full post »