SOURCE: The Forum

November 03, 2015 10:00 ET

New Report in Pediatrics Shows Bright Future for Autism Treatment

OREGON CITY, OR--(Marketwired - November 03, 2015) - The Forum, an interdisciplinary think tank dedicated to autism research, recently completed a review of research of early detection and interventions for autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Their resulting conclusions and recommendations have been published as a four-part article in the October 2015 supplement of "Pediatrics," the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

From the mass of data reviewed, two salient points emerge that, considered jointly, have extremely exciting implications for the future of ASD treatment.

“This landmark study has demonstrated both that autism can be detected much earlier than previously thought, and that treatment can be very effective,” says David Humphrey, founding board member of The Forum.

While the AAP officially recommends testing at age 18 months and again at age 24 months, the recent article recommends ongoing screening during all well-baby visits. The article also highlights several diagnostic instruments that show promise in being able to identify ASD in children younger than 12 months, as well as studies that found commonalities among infants later diagnosed with ASD -- one study, for instance, found delayed fine-motor skills at six months, while another found “head lag” among the same age group, to be predictive of a later diagnosis of ASD.

The article points out that both the causes and the presentations of ASD can vary widely. Consequently the authors of the article recommend a variety of diagnostic instruments, noting the strengths and limitations of each.

The article states, “no definitive behavioral or diagnostic markers for ASD have yet been identified in infants aged <12 months,” but predicts in the future ASD early diagnosis will be vastly improved by “examining combinations of symptomatic abnormalities.”

In the paper’s section on interventions, several recommendations for treatment and future research are offered. The most intriguing point, however, is the authors’ assertion they have “identified several comprehensive and targeted treatment models with evidence of clear benefits.”

This paper, which will likely be seen as a landmark in the field of ASD research, represents the most thorough review of the available information to date. While it stresses the need for further research, it points the way forward for ASD research and treatment and offers convincing reasons to be optimistic about the future.

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