Published June 13, 2011
I totally disagree with the premise of a new report released by Dr. Jan Willem Gorter, a pediatrician at McMaster University in Canada, that says there is no solid evidence to support screening toddlers for autism.
After reviewing existing medical literature, Gorter and his research team came to this conclusion and claimed that many of the current tests used to diagnose autism spectrum disorders are inaccurate.
Personally, I think that his conclusions are premature and dangerous for families dealing with children who have autism spectrum disorders.
His retrospective review of the medical literature states that “we don’t have research evidence to show how well screening works.”
As a doctor, I know what he means with regard to evidence-based medicine. But sometimes, this evidence is limited by standard treatment protocols and length of therapy, which is the case for many autistic children, who don’t always have access to timely care. As a father with an autistic son, I find Gorter’s recommendation foolish.
Children who are on the autism spectrum are moving targets. What I mean by this is that children have developmental milestones that are age specific, and right now the best method we have to help kids with autism is based on identifying their functional skill level early enough.
By doing so, we can implement therapies like Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), which could make dramatic changes in a child’s social skills.
The researchers also found other reasons to avoid screening. For instance, they argued that there is no cure for autism, and interventions to help the kids function better on a daily basis often have shaky underpinnings and cost a lot of money, they reported in the journal Pediatrics.
Well Dr. Gorter, for my part, I don’t want to play socialism with the lives of American children. The money that is spent on the diagnosis and treatment of autism is a fraction of the dollars that are spent on other diseases that sometimes are due to excessive drinking, smoking or eating.
If anything, we need to fight more to get to the root of diagnosis and to facilitate easy treatments for the millions of children that fall prey to bureaucrats who’d rather take better care of themselves than spend money where it is most needed, which is on the future.
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encourage routine screenings for autism. I just hope they don’t change their minds thanks to this piece of “so-called” science.