Thursday, April 17, 2008
Thursday, Apr. 10, 2008
Health & Fitness
Targeting autism early
Richland's CADET specialists take team approach to diagnosing, treating disorder
By Laura Kate Zaichkin, Herald staff writer
Kyle Long spent the first half of his life meeting normal developmental milestones.
The Richland toddler had a vocabulary of about two dozen words, played with his brother and was "spot on with everything," said his father, Nate Long.
Then his vocabulary began to disappear, and Kyle retreated into himself. "He was in his own world," Long said. "Other kids would be engaging with us, but he'd rather play with his trucks.
"He was a really happy kid so we didn't see anything wrong with it."
Kyle, now 3, was the first child diagnosed by Richland's Children's Developmental Center's Comprehensive Autistic Disorders Evaluation Team, or CADET, which started last month.
CADET is the only Tri-City team that uses specialists in many disciplines to diagnose autism. And they review the largest age range of children in the area, explained Christine Beck, the program's autism specialist.
Most physicians won't diagnosis autism before children are 3, while CADET's team of Beck, a pediatric neuropsychologist, physical therapist and speech therapist will diagnose those who are 15 months to 7 years old.
"We're all about early diagnosis," Beck said. "We want to push the importance of the early identification."
The disorder that affects one in every 150 children affects the development of social and communication skills. Autism affects nearly 1.5 million Americans.
Beck says early diagnosis generally leads to a better prognosis for the child. Once diagnosed, both the child and family can learn more about dealing with autism, including information on communication and adaptive and social skills.
Kyle was officially diagnosed with late-onset autism only about a month ago, though he has been at the developmental center since last summer with suspected autism. Already "he's made phenomenal progress," Beck said.
CADET is accepting referrals, and the evaluation process begins with a referral to Dr. Scott Grewe, the team's pediatric neuropsychologist. From there, the team does a series of interviews with the family as well as standardized tests that cater to the respective age group.
"They're pretty thorough," Long said. "They're things that parents wouldn't really think about.
"There's a lot of things that parents think are cute when their kids are young," he added. "But they're really flags."
For instance, Nate and Jana Long noticed Kyle laughed hysterically at things that children wouldn't normally find funny, like a child sliding down a slide. He also used repetitive motions with his toys.
Early diagnosis is just as important for parents and families of autistic children as it is for the children themselves, Beck said. Once diagnosed, families are provided with knowledge and resources to help them cope.
"Autism, no matter what, is awful and hard," Beck said. But education, "makes autism a little bit less scary. It helps parents feel less helpless."
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
Today is global autism awareness day (apparently as declared by NATO) and CNN made a bunch of great videos available on their website which focus on different aspects of autism from therapies to adults living with autism, even triplets with autism. If you have a few minutes you should check it out and view what might interest you. www.Cnn.com
Also, I ordered a 90 min. movie from an autistic filmmaker adult who created a documentary on adults living with autism. He is interviewed on Cnn. If anybody wants to check it out let me know and I'll get it to you.