Monday, May 19, 2008

Autism and the Role of Neurologists

ABC News has an interesting online feature The Answers to Autism May Be Inside the Mind in which neurologist Dr. Fernando Miranda argues that neurologists should be more involved in the diagnosis and treatment of autism disorders. The feature includes parent input, including an interview with Sarah Kavanaugh, whose son had been diagnosed with an autism disorder but who sought Dr. Miranda's assistance. An MRI disclosed that Beckett's corpus colusum, "the brain freeway that connects the two hemispheres, was a bit thin. That is crucial in any sort of diagnosis because it can affect language."

An EEG indicated signs of seizures which were not necessarily visible to observers. After more tests and a sleep EEG it was determined that her son did not in fact have an autism disorder. He " has a version of Landau Kleffner syndrome, a brain seizure disorder that can masquerade as autism." Since that diagnosis Kavanaugh's son has benefited substantially from anti-seizure medication.

The ABC feature also points out that it is not clear that all children would benefit from anti-seizure medication or that anti-seizure medication is always appropriate in cases where there are indications of limited seizure activity. Research is not currently advanced enough to indicate which children with seizure like symptoms might benefit from such medication. The drugs, in the view of some doctors, can be harmful. There is a risk that such medications could become over prescribed as some feel has happened with ADHD medications.

The children featured in this article benefited from the intervention of neurologists and ABC has done a service to children with autism and autism like conditions by highlighting that fact.

1 comment:

Suzanne said...

As someone looking to consult a neurologist for my daughter, I really welcome the news. My daughter's psychologist and a behavioural consultant that I talk to says there's something wrong with my daughter that's beyond the usual autistic traits. She tends to slow down with too much input, like an old computer. If we could fix that, it would probably be a great step forward in her progress.