CME Title

CME Introduction

The autism spectrum disorders can often be reliably detected by the age of 3 years, and in some cases as early as 18 months. Studies suggest that many children eventually may be accurately identified by the age of 1 year or even younger. The appearance of any of the warning signs of ASD is reason to have a child evaluated by a professional specializing in these disorders.

Early diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) is critical for a number of reasons, perhaps most importantly because interventions to improve the functioning of children with ASD may be more effective with younger children. Evidence suggests that early treatment optimizes long-term prognosis and that treatment yields diminishing returns as children get older. Several studies have estimated that the gains in functioning associated with early treatment will result in considerable cost savings to both families of children with ASD and the systems in which they are served.

Primary care physicians play an important role in the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders. Because PCPs see children at regular intervals that coincide with developmental milestones, they obtain regular developmental snapshots of children that may be the best indicators of a possible autism spectrum disorder or other developmental disability. It’s important that primary care physicians are aware of the symptoms of autism spectrum disorders as well as what to do if they suspect that a child is experiencing related delays.

Parents are usually the first to notice unusual behaviors in their child. In some cases, the baby seemed "different" from birth, unresponsive to people or focusing intently on one item for long periods of time. The first signs of an ASD can also appear in children who seem to have been developing normally. When an engaging, babbling toddler suddenly becomes silent, withdrawn, self-abusive, or indifferent to social overtures, something is wrong. Research has shown that parents are usually correct about noticing developmental problems, although they may not realize the specific nature or degree of the problem.

Within this CME course we will cover four basic topics:

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Basics
  • Child Social Development
  • Early Identification
  • Referral Process

NIMH, Mandell

Autism can be reliably detected before the age of 3 years.
Identification of autism prior to the age of 3…
Click on the correct letter.
A. Cannot be made reliably until after the age of 3.
B. Should be avoided because of the potential negative effects of labeling a child.
C. Makes only minimal difference since there is no effective treatment.
D. Can make a significant difference if referrals and interventions are started.