It seems a month doesn’t go by without an article in the news highlighting some research study that has discovered a new risk for developing autism.
Just within the last year, published research articles in reputable scientific journals have correlated everything from antidepressants and paternal age to closely-spaced pregnancies and living in close proximity to freeways as associated with an autism diagnosis.
After the lay press editorializes and sensationalizes the findings, the correlation study has been converted into wording that implies causation. Read full post »
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 »
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 »
When entering the world of autism, whether as a parent or a provider, a number of questions immediately come to mind. From the parents’ perspective, questions such as “what caused my child’s autism” and “will my child be happy as an adult” are usually at or near the top of the list. From the perspective of the provider, we often fall well short of being able to provide adequate answers. It is understandable that saying “we don’t know the cause of your child’s autism” doesn’t exactly instill confidence in us as physicians or psychologists. Read full post »
The International Meeting for Autism Research (IMFAR) was recently held in San Diego from May 12-14 by the International Society for Autism Research (INSAR). In one of many research symposiums, recent findings from multiple randomized controlled trials of autism treatments were presented. The methodology used in randomized controlled trials requires substantial resources to develop strong study designs that have often not been used in autism research. Therefore, the research presented in this symposium was quite exciting, as it begins to address many of the current gaps in knowledge that have occurred due to the previous use of study designs that are not well controlled. Read full post »