Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Expanding the base for Autism research
By Miriam Falco
Managing Editor, CNN Medical News
April is Autism Awareness Month, and in many respects, awareness of the neurological disorders that fall under the "autism spectrum disorders" umbrella has grown. The latest CDC statistics suggest that 1 child in 150 has an autism disorder - autistic disorder; Asperger's disorder; childhood disintegrative disorder (CDD); Rett's disorder; or PDD-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS). That's about 1.5 million people in the United States right now. The Autism Society predicts that number will rise to 4 million in the next 10 years.
Parents of children with autism face many frustrations, including finding the proper treatments, getting access to the therapies their children need and paying for the care, because many insurance plans don't cover autism. Just this month Harvard researcher Michael Ganz published a study that says the lifetime cost of autism is $3 million. He suggests that doctors and health-care professionals urge parents to seek financial counseling, so they are able to plan ahead.
There's no test or cure for autism. But researchers around the country are looking for answers to the question: What causes autism? They're finding more clues each day. But so more needs to be learned. And who better to learn from than families with children with autism? A new project launched by the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, Maryland, hopes to accelerate the process of unraveling the mysteries of autism by bringing researchers and families together. It has created the "Interactive Autism Network," or IAN - the first nationwide online autism registry. Parents are encouraged to register at http://www.ianproject.org/, because they know things about their child that doctors, therapists and researchers are unaware of. Linking their knowledge to the scientists searching for better treatments and a possible cure is essential. According to Dr. Paul Law, the project director who also is the father of a child with autism, a lot of families want to participate in research, but either they don't know about what's already under way or it's inconvenient for them to go where the research is being done. The IAN project hopes to bridge that gap by providing an online tool.
Does your child, or someone you love, have autism? Would you participate in the Interactive Autism Network?
ABOUT THE BLOGGet a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends -- info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.
PREVIOUS POSTS• More clarification on supplements
• Chasing Life: Stem Cells and Aging
• A doctor's take on the plagues
• Remembering a miracle
• Imprisoned for illness
• Yet another finding on hormones
• Making sense of mammograms
• Can you prove faith?
• Opening day is (almost) here!
• Advertising to kids hurts your wallet... and their...