This past weekend marked the third Medical Academy of Pediatric Special Needs Conference, which was held in Costa Mesa, CA. I have made sure to attend every one. This time, I had the added challenge of traveling on my damaged and recently repaired left foot. But, thanks to the help of my beautiful and patient wife, Jackie, I managed to fly, hop, crutch and wheel across the country.
What started out as the “Defeat Autism Now!”(DAN!) movement, then morphed into the Autism Research Institute (which continues to support autism research and provide needed information and support for families and individuals with autism spectrum disorders), has finally become a full-fledged medical society “for the treatment of children with autism spectrum disorders and chronic special needs.”
These courses provide the required CME credits to attain a MAPS fellowship certification. This educational experience prepares practitioners from all over the world to deliver state-of-the-art care. Qualified and experienced doctors and other professionals offer detailed scientific evidence and clinical information in order to further understanding and treatment. We review older therapies, some of which may still have value, the most common protocols that the participants presently utilize, and the emerging technologies that could lead to better treatment.
The advanced courses that I attended included the following discussions:
(Day 1): Hormones & Neurodevelopmental Disorders, led by Dr. Anju Usman. Covered subjects included the CNS, HBOT and treatments such as galantamine, phosphatidyl serene, propanolol, cortisol, oxytocin, secretin, the endocrine system, calcium, the adrenals, and hormones. We also learned about remedies from plants, foods and other cultures.
Evaluation & Treatment of Older Children was presented by Dr. Dan Rossignol, who gave one of his stellar presentations thoroughly reviewing the scientific literature that helps support our various treatment protocols. Case presentations with enthusiastic audience participation rounded out the afternoon.
(Day 2): Gastrointestinal & Nutrition. Dana Laake (Dietician-Nutritionist) reviewed Advanced Nutritional Assessment including labs, signs and symptoms, and special diets (all of them, I think). Dr. Elizabeth Mumper immersed us in G-I testing and discussed “clinical pearls” – what practitioners should look for to help patients with symptoms due to an unhealthy gut. Dr. Rossignol reviewed the pertinent literature and more clinical cases. Dr. Jeffrey Bradstreet taught us about testing and treatment options for autistic gastrointestinal disturbances. He concluded his talk with a thorough discourse about fecal transplants. No shit.
(Day 3): Cutting Edge & Novel Treatments. There were lots of experts, lots of treatment possibilities, and lots of opinions. Need I write more?
The MAPS conferences are no boondoggle. Classes go from 8-to-6 for three days, with formal testing at the end of those long sessions. The most important functions include networking with doctors from all over and discussing cases – just like your children – from the youngest, to the most challenging and complicated. This information adds immeasurably to our individual clinical experience.
What’s new is that your children – young and old, disruptive or spaced, apraxia or echolalic, unfocused and anxious, suffering from seizures or repeated infections – are being discussed, reviewed and considered as patients who deserve appropriate medical attention.
MAPS participation grew by a third this meeting, but that is still not enough personnel to address the burgeoning patient load. It’s a great feeling to know that each year we are getting closer to the causes and cures for this ever-increasing epidemic.