Once a child is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, adequate time should be made available to answer questions, guide the family toward treatment and service options, and make appropriate referrals.
Educational materials need to be provided and discussed. Multiple resources are available, including those available online from various government resources (eg, the CDC and the National Institutes of Health [NIH]) and private foundations and groups (eg, Autism Speaks, Autism Society of America, American Academy of Pediatrics). Families should also be referred and given information about local autism support centers, which are available in most states.
The written evaluation report is often used by families to advocate for services, therapies, and educational programs. Therefore, it should provide specific documentation of the diagnostic evaluation findings and evidence-based recommendations for treatment. Recommendations should be detailed and tailored to the child’s individual developmental needs.
Behavioral and educational therapies are the mainstay of treatment for autism spectrum disorder.
Children younger than 3 years of age should be assessed by the early intervention team, and an individualized family service plan (IFSP) should be developed. They should be referred for both general developmental and autism-intensive services. Children older than age 3 years should be referred to their local public school for a school evaluation to determine special education eligibility (often referred to as a team or core evaluation).
Most children with autism spectrum disorder will be deemed eligible for services through an individualized education program (IEP). Some children may receive accommodations under a 504 plan. Home-based services may also be accessed through the IFSP, IEP, or private or public health insurance.
Many states now have laws mandating private insurance to pay for autism spectrum disorder–related behavioral therapies. Recently, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services mandated public insurance coverage for autism spectrum disorder services as well.
The National Research Council Recommendations for Educating Children With Autism include at least 25 hours of total service time, maximal individualized instruction with a low student to teacher ratio, and parent/family involvement. These recommendations are available for free download from the National Academies Press (click here for to download the PDF file).
We will discuss details of General Management for Autism Spectrum Disorder including in future postings.
REFERENCE: CONTINUUM: Lifelong Learning in Neurology: February 2018
Dr. Germano Falcao
Dr. Germano Falcao is a Mayo Clinic Trained Pediatric Neurologist who has a passion to care for children with neurological disorders and give support to their families. He is a compassionate and experienced physician, a published author, and a professor who specializes in areas involving Seizures and Epilepsy; Headaches and Migraine syndromes; Neurodevelopment Disorders; ADHD and Autism Evaluation.