Autism Awareness is in the Month of April! I believe that one month set aside is not enough attention to a growing epidemic. Look at the statistics: 1 in 88 from 2008 data, compared to 1 in 150 in 2002. This is the number from 2008, which already showed an increase of 78% from 2002 to 20081, mind you these stats are already 5 years old, and it is now 2013. After working with patients and their families for 14 years I find myself very upset that the numbers are growing. Back in the early days of my career, I thought the statistic of 1 in 250 was shocking. All parties involved in research now need to focus spending money on finding solutions: educational, behaviorally and medical treatment. The thought of another study on “is there more Autism?” needs to no longer be done. The numbers are increasing, and more autism awareness is needed.
Autism is a complicated disorder that medically has many overlapping features. In our patient’s we see a wide range of systems affected. The diagnosis that Autism brings however focuses on the developmental and behavioral aspects due to the nature of this being a behavioral focused diagnosis. I however believe that the underling pathophysiology easily affects the outcome one sees behavioral.
The main treatment outcomes need to encompass a wide range of providers. That's another reason why autism awareness is needed. At Serenity Health Care, our team will be looking for the medical and comorbid condition’s that do affect the well-being of the person with Autism. When a person is evaluated head to toe, many physical findings are clues into the well-being of that patient. For example, is there easy fatigability? A practitioner would start to evaluate that person’s sleep, muscle tone, and diet. Simple changes in any of these areas will allow for improved outcomes in well-being. Functional medicine takes each area of that person that is affected and further evaluates it. For example, sleep maybe disrupted due to a neurotransmitter imbalance. Muscle tone is a reflection of the mitochondrial function, and/or if there is chronic immune deregulation. Diet can be affected by the patient’s sensory choice of foods and/or allergens that may be affecting their behavior due to the allergen being irritating to their immune system.
My hope for this month and beyond: All practitioners involved in Autism will stop with the rhetoric. Instead, take a stand for treatment and look to solutions in the care of the person diagnosed with Autism. Help raise autism awareness.
1) Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorders — Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, 14 Sites, United States, 2008:
The overall estimated prevalence of ASDs among the 14 ADDM sites was 11.3 per 1,000 (one in 88) children aged 8 years who were living in these communities during 2008. Overall ASD prevalence estimates varied widely across all sites (range: 4.8–21.2 per 1,000 children aged 8 years). ASD prevalence estimates also varied widely by sex and by racial/ethnic group. Approximately one in 54 boys and one in 252 girls living in the ADDM Network communities were identified as having ASDs. Comparison of 2008 findings with those for earlier surveillance years indicated an increase in estimated ASD prevalence of 23% when the 2008 data were compared with the data for 2006 (from 9.0 per 1,000 children aged 8 years in 2006 to 11.0 in 2008 for the 11 sites that provided data for both surveillance years) and an estimated increase of 78% when the 2008 data were compared with the data for 2002 (from 6.4 per 1,000 children aged 8 years in 2002 to 11.4 in 2008 for the 13 sites that provided data for both surveillance years). Because the ADDM Network sites do not make up a nationally representative sample, these combined prevalence estimates should not be generalized to the United States as a whole.