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Curr Probl Pediatr Adolesc Health Care. 2014 Feb;44(2):26-47. doi: 10.1016/j.cppeds.2013.12.002.

Treating the whole person with autism: the proceedings of the Autism Speaks National Autism Conference.

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Department of Pediatrics, Nationwide Children's Hospital and The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH.
Pediatrics and Developmental Neuroscience Branch, National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, MD.
Division of Genetics, Boston Children's Hospital, Boston, MA.
Treatment and Research Institute for Autism Spectrum Disorder, Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Research on Human Development, Nashville, TN.
Department of Pediatrics, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT.
Department of Pediatrics, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN; Department of Special Education, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN.


The identification of autism spectrum disorders has increased dramatically over the past decade, with the latest estimates indicating prevalence as high as 1 in 54 boys. There is greater awareness of medical conditions that co-occur with autism and expansion of treatment options. Closer scrutiny has led to refinement of the diagnostic criteria, and there have been advances in genetics examining potential causal factors. Transition to adulthood is an area of growing concern, and professionals and families require guidance on this issue. This article summarizes the proceedings of the Autism Speaks conference on Treating the Whole Person with Autism: Care across the Lifespan. The conference was organized with the intent of providing a forum for both families and professionals to learn about the most current research in the field. Dr. Sue Swedo provides important background information regarding the changes in the diagnostic criteria for autism spectrum disorders. She particularly deals with the concerns of individuals and families that their autism diagnosis may change. Recommendations for genetic testing and its interpretation are provided by Dr. David Miller. His discussion helps make sense of the utility of genetic testing for ASD, along with demonstration of the complexity of determining which genetic factors are doing what and through which pathways. Dr. Jeremy Veenstra-VanderWeele provides useful background information on how medicines are initially identified and for what purpose and goes on to describe the present and future treatments in pharmacology. Medical issues are addressed by Dr. Paul Carbone, especially the coordination of comprehensive services through the medical home model of care. Dr. Julie Lounds Taylor concludes with guidance on preparation for adulthood, a topic of great importance to families as their child matures and for the professionals who will help guide this transition.

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