One day, you look up and notice that there is a wet spot in your ceiling. Inch by inch the spot is getting larger and even starts to drip on to the floor. What is the next thing that most people would do?
You would, I assume, call the plumber – right? Now, perhaps you would look on the Internet to find the name of a local service, instead of the yellow pages, as in the “olden days”.
How many would search the web for “drips in the ceiling,” try to understand all the possible causes of the moisture, open up the drywall and attempt to weld the hole in the pipe (or maybe it’s the joint, or something else altogether)? Yes, there is always someone who would attempt to perform this task, but it sounds pretty foolish to me. Plus, you could actually make things worse (think FLOOD).
However, when parents suspect their child might be exhibiting developmental delays, they often search the Internet for a diagnosis and even a cure, NOT a doctor! At the time of this writing, an Internet search for autism returns 74,9oo,ooo results.
Which page(s) should you believe? Which ones contain information that is incorrect, and could make things worse, or waste time and money? That is what a pediatrician is for – to take an extensive history and perform a thorough physical examination, then give you a precise diagnosis (or possible diagnoses) and work with the family to come up with a plan to get the best possible care.
Why do so many people try to “fix the leak” themselves? I’m afraid to say that the medical community should take a great deal of the responsibility when parents try do-it-yourself autism treatment.
The pediatrician who proclaimed, “he’s a boy, so they speak later… there is a new baby in the house… you speak two languages… he’s spoiled,” but didn’t comment about the lack of eye contact or toe-walking, has suffered a loss of confidence.
The professional who examines 6 patients per hour has no time to consider conditions that are not routine. Neurologists are frequently viewed as cold and unsympathetic to the devastation that an ASD diagnosis creates.
Another contributing factor is the complexity of autism itself. There are often multiple terms and the parents are caught trying to understand why the pediatrician writes “PDD-NOS” and the neurologist puts “ASD”. Too many acronyms, not enough information, and so the patient turns to the web. Finally, there are the non-doctor doctors out there who offer claims of cure and magic bullets to fix the child. Who wouldn’t want to get a completely “cured” child – even if it costs your home and future?
What is the answer?
Find a really good plumber!
The most accomplished doctors for Autism Spectrum Disorder are physicians who have specialized in the diagnosis AND treatment of affected individuals, and attend frequent conferences including the Medical Academy of Pediatric Special Needs community of physicians.
If you try to ‘research’ autism by yourself, you may occasionally get some results, but you also might create a flood.