BMJ focus on autism

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Recently, a new section about autism appeared on internet. It is a collaboration between The Guardian and the British Medical Journal (BMJ). The mains section is here http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/besttreatments/autism and there is a summary here http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/besttreatments/autism-summary.

The main site has the following section ...

I must admit, I was somewhat intrigued. The 'what is it?' section has a subsection with their description of the causes of autism in about 10% of cases. The 'how common is it?' section says autism is 4 to 6 per 1,000 (presumably, their 'autism' means Autistic Disorder) and ASD (including Asperger's and PDD-NOS) is about 1% of children.

The 'what will happen section' says ...

  • About 15 in 100 children with autism grow up to live on their own.
  • About 15 in 100 to 20 in 100 live alone but with help.
  • Many adults with autism need full-time care for the rest of their life.

It cites some other outcomes data if that is what you are looking for.

The section on how your doctor diagnoses autism is interesting. In Australia we don't pretend doctors diagnose autism ... and governments tend to expect/require diagnoses from a more specialist source if you want to access their funding or support.

The section on 'what treatments work?' lists 'early teaching by parents' first and says ...

Does it work?

Yes. Experts agree that programmes that train parents how to teach their child skills when they are very young are likely to help with autism. But there hasn't been much good research on this.

This seems rather confused ... 'yes it does work' ... well it is likely to work but there isn't much good research. Should this treatment method be at the top of the list?

Overall, the material is well presented. It has references and largely current information. It is another source of information that people can approach with the usual caution.