The Doctor Is In: Autism Awareness

Content sponsored and provided by Henry Ford Hospital

April is Autism Awareness Month.  Nearly 25 years ago, the Autism Society launched a nationwide effort to promote autism awareness, inclusion and self-determination for all, and assure that each person with Autism Spectrum Disorder is provided the opportunity to achieve the highest possible quality of life.

On Wednesday, join Deena Centofanti and experts from Henry Ford Hospital as they talk about Autism Spectrum Disorder, early signs and diagnosis.


Tisa Johnson-Hooper, M.D.
Medical Director, Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities
Henry Ford Health System

Jason Majchrzak, L.L.P., B.C.B.A.
Limited License Psychologist and Board Certified Behavior Analyst
Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities
Henry Ford Health System

In recognition of Autism Awareness month, Metro Parent magazine and Henry Ford Health System annually partner host the "Living with Autism Workshop," which provides parents and caregivers with sessions on education, therapy, behavior and an opportunity to connect with medical experts in the field.

Space is still available for those who are interested in attending the workshop from 7:30 a.m. - 4 p.m. this Friday, April 15 at the Detroit Marriott Troy. Tickets are available at the door or in advance.

Prevalence of autism in the United States is now estimated at 1 in 68 births, according to the CDC, and more than 3.5 million Americans live with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
ASD is a complex developmental disability; signs typically appear during early childhood and affect a person's ability to communicate, and interact with others.
ASD is defined by a certain set of behaviors and is a spectrum condition that affects individuals differently and to varying degrees.
There is no known single cause of autism, but increased awareness and early diagnosis/intervention and access to appropriate services/supports lead to significantly improved outcomes.
The U.S. cost of autism over the lifespan is about $2.4 million for a person with an intellectual disability, or $1.4 million for a person without intellectual disability.
Cost of lifelong care can be reduced by 2/3 with early diagnosis and intervention.

Autism Spectrum Disorder: Early Signs and Diagnosis
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a group of developmental disabilities that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges.
Some possible early signs of ASD:
- Lack of or delay in spoken language
- Repetitive use of language and/or motor mannerisms (e.g., hand-flapping, twirling objects)
- Little or no eye contact
- Lack of interest in peer relationships
- Persistent fixation on parts of objects
Studies show that early diagnosis and intervention lead to significantly improved outcomes.
Each child at Henry Ford's Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities is evaluated through parent interview, direct observations, physical examinations, and diagnostic tools.
Depending on the child's age and symptoms, a specific team will be selected for his or her diagnostic evaluation, including a pediatrician, geneticist, genetic counselor, neuropsychologist, speech-language pathologist, neurologist and psychiatrist.

ABA Therapy
The goal of ABA therapy is to increase useful skills and decrease problem behaviors.
ABA therapy uses positive rewards to shape learning and to improve behaviors. When a child receives a reward for a certain behavior, the behavior is more likely to happen again.
ABA therapy helps children add skills that will support them in many settings (at home, at play, and at school). It also aims to increase the chance that those skills will transfer from a one-on-one therapy setting to other everyday situations in the child's life.
Another goal of ABA therapy is to decrease behaviors that may interfere with learning, such as tantrums, aggression, or repetitive behaviors (hand flapping, spinning, etc.).

Additional Treatment Options
Medical Home Clinic standard of Primary Care
Speech-Language Therapy
Center-Based Treatment
Behavioral health
Parent training programs
Social skills groups