Autism on the rise
Why is autism increasing at an alarming rate? Why is no time taken in the training of doctors and even pediatricians to help them provide behavioural therapy for autistic children? Melvin de Levie, MD, Vancouver, BC
Autism is on the rise, likely because we’re becoming more adept at diagnosing it. In the past, the “odd” or eccentric child was just that, but now the same child has the autistic spectrum label. It follows that kids with autism fare much better as there are many more diagnosed children in the mild spectrum who will ultimately do well with minimal intervention. With the new 18-month developmental checkup, children are being referred sooner. Unfortunately, the waiting lists for diagnosis and treatment remain long, challenging the primary-care doctor to help access behaviour and speech management sooner than later. More pediatricians in the community are becoming available to help with diagnosing and prescribing medication (risperidol for aggressive behaviour, stimulants for inattention, etc.) for autistic children but it takes a team of healthcare workers to give long-term effective support and intervention.