TheNeurodevelopmental Clinic specializes in the integrative treatment of ADHD, autism and related conditions, including Tourette Syndrome, sensory disorders, and behavioral problems.
Integrative medicine is an approach that looks at each child as a complete, unique person, rather than just someone with a set of “symptoms” that needs to be corrected. Integrative medicine also combines the best of both conventional and alternative medicine, using what is most effective for each specific child and situation.
We take the time to carefully and thoroughly evaluate your child’s overall development, including his or her strengths and abilities, as well as challenges. From this process, you and your child will then receive a treatment plan that emphasizes natural and safe interventions, and that complements your family’s unique needs and values.
In addition to conducting an initial evaluation and providing recommendations, we will work together over time with you and your child to adjust or change our treatments to ensure your child’s long-term success.
How Integrative Neurodevelopmental Pediatrics can Help Your Child:
Children with neurodevelopmental conditions such as ADHD and autism can benefit greatly from an integrative approach.
Although many children benefit from stimulant medications, they can have significant side effects, and many parents are uncomfortable with the idea of long-term use of these medications.
What is not as well known is that there are many safe, effective, and well-researched natural therapies that can significantly improve ADHD symptoms.
We will help you work with your child’s diet to ensure optimal functioning, order appropriate laboratory testing for vitamins and minerals, and use those nutritional supplements that have been proven to be effective. We will also discuss home-based behavioral interventions and help you make sure your child is receiving the best possible school program.
When necessary, we will also help you determine whether your child will benefit from Learning Disability testing or referrals to psychologists for other testing or counseling. If medication is currently being taken or is being considered, we will help you coordinate it as part of the overall treatment program. When appropriate, you may receive referrals for neuro feedback, computer-based training, Traditional Medicine, yoga, massage, or other beneficial therapies.
We practice a “biomedical” approach to autism, which recognizes that autism is a complex, multisystem syndrome, which, regardless of severity or age, retains the possibility for significant healing and change.
The biomedical approach may include dietary changes, nutritional supplements, specialized testing, and other interventions that address the many gastrointestinal, nutritional, allergic, and immune problems that often accompany the behavioral symptoms of autism.
Our goal with this approach is to decrease specific symptoms, reach an overall improvement in autistic behaviors, and help your child function at the very highest level possible. We will help you sort out the multitude of conflicting recommendations coming from the internet and other sources, using only those that are safe and have a high likelihood of success. We will also help advocate for and coordinate important therapeutic interventions, such as intensive behavioral management, speech and other therapies that your child needs and deserves.
The Diagnostic and Assessment Clinic is designed to provide direct services to children, teachers and their families.
Led by our clinical child psychologist, this unique service offers a trans-disciplinary comprehensive diagnostic assessment for children 18 months to 7 years old for whom a diagnosis of autism or another pervasive developmental disorder is suspected.
We are committed to providing not only a diagnosis but also:
Our assessment team includes:
The child’s parents are included as full partners in the assessment team. Community school – based practitioners who are involved in the education or treatment of the child are welcome as members of the assessment team, at the invitation of the child’s parents.
We strive to:
Since there is no blood test to determine the presence of autism, diagnosing this disorder can be difficult. Doctors look at the child’s behavior and development to make a diagnosis. Educators look at the impact these factors have on the student’s ability to access the general curriculum. It is important to keep in mind that a medical diagnosis of autism and an educational diagnosis are not the same.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can sometimes be detected at 18 months or younger. By age 2, a diagnosis by an experienced professional can usually be considered reliable. However, many children do not receive a diagnosis until much older. This delay means that children with ASD might not get the early intervention they need.
What does screening mean – does this mean there is a diagnosis?
Screening is a way to monitor development–it is not the same as a diagnosis. The purpose of screening is to identify children who might have a developmental delay or disorder. Screening tools are developed for a specific problem or condition.
Identifying atypical or delayed development as early as possible is important so that children can access appropriate interventions. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends screening for autism at both the 18-month and 24-month well-child visits.
What does Autism screening look like?
The screening process usually involves completion of a questionnaire by caregivers to assess social and communication development. It may also include direct observation by a specialist and a review of the child’s clinical history.
A good screening process will identify almost all of the children who have a delay or disorder. It will also, inevitably, identify some children who do not have the condition because no screening tool is perfect. The sensitivity of an autism screening tool indicates how well the tool correctly identifies children who have ASD and is the most important factor in a good screening tool. If a physician suspects autism spectrum disorder, a referral should be made for a comprehensive evaluation. An audiology evaluation may also be ordered and often the child will be referred to Early Intervention services.
Assessment & Diagnosis
An accurate diagnosis is based on a comprehensive history of early development and the observation or report of specific behavioral characteristics across a variety of environments and situations. The diagnostic criteria for autism are found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual – Fifth Edition (DSM-5) which can be viewed on the Autism Speaks website.
A multidisciplinary diagnostic assessment is recommended. This is a thorough review that differentiates autism from other developmental disabilities. The process should include direct observation with validated tools, and consideration of clinical history and caregiver concerns. Additional assessment may include: review of medical history, neurological evaluation, genetic testing, metabolic testing, hearing and vision screening and other medical testing.
The assessment team should include parents and professionals who have experience with assessing and diagnosing autism. These professionals may include the following: pediatric neurologist, developmental pediatrician, child psychiatrist or psychologist or another licensed medical professional. Given the impact autism has on social interaction, communication and other behaviors, it is also helpful to have a speech language pathologist, occupational therapist and behavior analyst on the team.
A child who receives a medical diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder will not automatically receive the educational disability category of Autism and may not immediately be eligible for special education services through the public school system. Parents are encouraged to contact the Special Education Department of their local school division to request an assessment when there is any concern that their child may have autism .
American Academy of Pediatrics, Council on Children With Disabilities, Section on Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, Bright Futures Steering Committee, Medical Home Initiatives for Children With Special Needs Project Advisory Committee. Identifying infants and young children with developmental disorders in the medical home: an algorithm for developmental surveillance and screening [published correction appears in Pediatrics. 2006;119:1808–1809]. Pediatrics. 2006;118 :405 –420
Gupta VB, Hyman SL, Johnson CP, et al. Identifying children with autism early [published correction appears in Pediatrics. 2007;119:867] Pediatrics. 2007;119 :152 –153
While to date, no cure has been found for autism, research has demonstrated that there are numerous interventions which do effectively target the core symptoms. Evidence indicates that early intervention is critical and many educational/behavioral interventions have been shown to be effective for individuals under the age of 22, as reported by the National Autism Center’s 2009 National Standards Report.
Please visit the National Autism Center’s 2009 National Standards Report to view the report on treatments and Evidence-Based Practice and Autism in the Schools.
Guidelines for Evidence Levels:
Established. Sufficient evidence is available to confidently determine that a treatment produces beneficial treatment effects for individuals on the autism spectrum. That is, these treatments are established as effective.
Emerging. Although one or more studies suggest that a treatment produces beneficial treatment effects for individuals with ASD, additional high quality studies must consistently show this outcome before we can draw firm conclusions about treatment effectiveness.
Unestablished. There is little or no evidence to allow us to draw firm conclusions about treatment effectiveness with individuals with ASD. Additional research may show the treatment to be effective, ineffective, or harmful.
Ineffective/Harmful. Sufficient evidence is available to determine that a treatment is ineffective or harmful for individuals on the autism spectrum.