University of Washington joins new Autism Treatment Network to provide better medical services

g from getting a diagnosis of autism, they are put in a position of making decisions about treatment with few physicians or centers that can guide them," she said. "And later on because many physicians focus on autism solely as a communications and behavior disorder, they fail to recognize medical conditions that are associated with autism. Many children with autism are nonverbal and have trouble expressing them themselves, so they have difficulty explaining their symptoms."

Dawson noted that gastrointestinal problems, sleep disorders and food allergies are among the medical conditions which may be prevalent in children with autism. According to parents some are being treated successfully for these issues. However, no organization of medical institutions has undertaken careful study and committed to establishing treatment guidelines for care.

Making front-line physicians aware of such information and proven treatments is a primary goal of the new network, and at the UW Autism Center this effort has been given a boost with a $1 million donation by Fade and his wife. This gift will be used to create a fellowship for training young physicians to go out into the community and treat autism. The Fades, who have a family member with autism, made a $5 million donation in 2000 to help found the UW Autism Center.

Autism is the most common developmental disability in the United States, affecting more youngsters than childhood leukemia, diabetes and cancer combined. It affects about one in 166 children according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Autism is a spectrum of developmental disorders that interfere with a child's ability to communicate or relate socially with other people. Those afflicted have a restricted range of activities and interests. Some are high functioning, but many children with autism have some form of mental retardation.

"For other developmental disorder, such as Down syndrome, physicians are alerted to the ki

Contact: Joel Schwarz
University of Washington

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