Our Autism Experts Help Families Navigate Treatment Options

Families of children with autism spectrum disorders often face a host of challenges, from finding the right intervention strategies to dealing with shifting diagnoses, as children learn and grow. Autism experts from Golisano Children’s Hospital at the University of Rochester Medical Center are committed to supporting families of children with autism.

When news of a new definition for autism came out on Jan. 20, Golisano Children’s Hospital’s Dr. Laura Silverman spoke with 13WHAM-TV‘s Evan Dawson to explain why the change was being made and offer some assurance to families.

The new criteria aim to make the process of diagnosing children with autism spectrum disorders more clear for providers, but just as importantly, the criteria aim to make the diagnosis less confusing for parents. Under the current diagnostic criteria, the name for what children have can change over time and then change back. For example, a child may initially be diagnosed with PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified), which is on the autism spectrum, but then after treatment or further development, he may receive a diagnosis of autism. The new criteria would eliminate that back and forth.

“Autism is vastly different in each individual case,” Dr. Silverman said. “It makes sense to look at who is getting what kind of service and why. The goal is to make it more transparent what kind of services people need and to make sure that the kids who get those services all have some similarities.” See the full interview from 13WHAM-TV here.

Golisano Children’s Hospital’s Dr. Tristram Smith, a national expert in the field of autism, spoke with MSNBC to offer some insight into a new study’s findings on autism. The findings stated that children with autism also tend to have other diagnoses as well. Dr. Smith recommended that families learn to understand that diagnoses can change, or that there can be more than one.

“Parents are often looking for that one answer,” Dr. Smith said. “Reality is, it’s a moving target, and it’s complicated. It can be more than one diagnosis at one time, or it can be different diagnoses at different times too.”  Read the full story with MSNBC here. 

We also welcome you to read about a grant Dr. Smith received to provide parent-based interventions for children with autism. Please call Rachael Davis at (585) 273-3023, to learn about opportunities to participate in studies like this one.

In a podcast called “There’s No Nanny 911”, Golisano Children’s Hospital’s Dr. Deborah Napolitano offered advice to help parents of children with autism to deal with challenging behaviors in the home environment. Dr. Napolitano focuses on helping children with autism using applied behavioral analysis (ABA) — the science of figuring out how to target and systematically change a specific behavior. Listen to the podcast here. We also invite you to read about an interesting study Dr. Napolitano conducted, in which she encouraged children with autism think more creatively, using lego blocks.

Golisano Children’s Hospital has made it a priority to enhance the programs and services we provide for families and children with autism. If you’d like to help, visit the Autism section of the Planning for our Future website or click here to make a gift today. For more on our services, visit the hospital’s Division of Neurodevelopmental and Behavioral Pediatrics page.

What services do you think are most helpful for families of children with autism?

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