Monday, December 14, 2009

In Autism, Medication Is Not Only Answer

Interesting op-ed from The Boston Globe by Dr. Claudia M. Gold, a pediatrician in Great Barrington.

Contemporary research integrating developmental psychology and neuroscience demonstrates that children with autism learn to regulate emotions in relationships. Intense experiences that are beyond the capacity of a child to self-regulate can be co-regulated with the help of people close to him.
A study published in the current issue of Pediatrics gives me hope. An intervention, the Early Start Denver Model, was offered in the homes of families, with parent, child, and therapist playing together. In the two-year study period, toddlers diagnosed with autism showed significant improvement in behavior, language, and IQ. The authors attribute the success of their intervention to the fact that it is “delivered within an affectively rich, relationship-focused context.’’
Some children severely affected by autism cannot function without medication. But because medication is the “standard of care’’ for treatment of ADHD, there is often an over-reliance on drugs, on the part of parents, teachers, and physicians, to treat complex problems. I worry that the same could become true for autism.

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