Every new patient at The Child Development Center has a unique history and physical presentation. Often, however, the children share the experience that their mother:
a. Already knew, or highly suspected, ASD, and
b. Heard the doctors proclaim that they were “reluctant to make a diagnosis, at this time, because the child is so young.”
Is there any other serious medical condition that carries this ‘wait and see’ attitude? “It’s probably not cancer, so let’s wait a few months and see what grows.” “The eardrum looks red and is bulging, if the fever gets any higher we will consider antibiotics.” “I hear wheezing, call us in a day or two.” And vaccinations? The first one is foisted upon newborns, with many more to follow, in order to prevent disease.
Study after study documents important gains that come from early intervention for developmental delays. Despite that, there are neurologists and psychiatrists who continue to claim that “You can’t make the autism diagnosis before the age of 2 or 3.” That imposes a waiting period, postponing intervention at the most critical juncture of development.
In order to assign an accurate diagnosis, both the DSM IV, and the present iteration of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5.0, contain the stipulation that delays should be noted in early childhood. The previous manual stated, “Delays or abnormal functioning… with onset prior to age 3 years… ” The present DSM 5.0 describes, “Symptoms must be present in the early developmental period (but may not become fully manifest until social demands exceed limited capacities, or may be masked by learned strategies in later life).” There is no mention of a waiting period.
Yet, in the midst of this epidemic, and with all of the press coverage about the rise in autism, mother is usually the one who makes the diagnosis. Is it any wonder that the parents go to the Internet to get their information or seek alternative treatments when the doctors weren’t even willing to assign a diagnosis, let alone suggest any therapy?
At our Clinic, there are now many younger siblings of children who carry a ‘Spectrum’ diagnosis. Some demonstrate developmental red flags. A 2 year-old male who doesn’t speak and walks on hs toes but shows good eye contact. A 1 year-old female who turns to her name, but doesn’t stand or vocalize. A six month-old boy who suffers from GERD, eczema and chronic diarrhea.
The youngsters were all high-risk and the mom couldn’t sleep, worrying about the future. What is wrong with offering immediate action targeted to specific symptoms? The youngest children can use a probiotic, stop using PPIs and stay away from antibiotics. The older ones need speech and language, OT, ABA and/or PT. STAT.
These are real examples of some brothers and sisters who have gone on to neuro-typical development. Did earlier intervention prevent autism? Bottom line – who cares?
Try this analogy: It is the Middle Ages and The Plague has struck several neighboring cities. The first sign is a flu-like illness that rapidly advances, ending in death. So, when a local sufferer visits the doctor because of a runny nose and sore throat, the physician should be thinking “The Black Death,” not a cold.
Twentieth century poet Helen Steiner Rice wrote, “A mother’s love is patient and forgiving when all others are forsaking, it never fails or falters, even though the heart is breaking.” When Mom thinks that something is wrong and the doctor dismisses it, saying “It will probably will go away,” families should run, not walk, to a professional who will listen.
Happy Mother’s Day
from Dr. Udell
and the staff at the Child Development Center