Monday, October 29, 2007

Don't miss Larry King's discussion with panelists on recent pediatric society/association's recommendations to screen infants for autism at 18 months and 24 months of age.

Panelist Holly Robinson Peete noted a bracelet being sold to benefit autism-related research and help families...

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Holly Robinson Peete Autism Bracelets

Autism Speaks

larry King Live
Autism: Groundbreaking Development

Aired October 29, 2007 - 21:00 ET
Help could be on the way for moms and dads who have worried their child may have autism. Two groundbreaking reports that could help diagnose it earlier were released today by the American Academy of Pediatrics. The group is making its strongest push ever to have all kids screened for autism by age two. It also details warning signs that parents should watch for, the goals and earlier diagnosis, and more effective treatment.

There is no cure for autism, but experts say an early treatment can lessen its severity.

Our panel members are Gary Cole, the multi-talented film and TV actor. His teenage daughter, Mary, was diagnosed with autism when she was 18 months old.

Dr. Ricki Robinson, M.D., pediatrician, founding member of Autism Speaks, co-founder and director of the Descano Medical Center for Development and Learning.

Holly Robinson Peete -- a return visit for Holly, the actress. Her oldest son, R.J., diagnosed with autism in the year 2000, when he was three. She and her husband, the former NFL quarterback, Rodney Peete, went public with their son's story this summer. She is founder of the HollyRod Foundation.

John Schneider, the actor and singer. He performed the national anthem before last night's NASCAR race at the Atlanta Motor Speedway. His teenaged son, Chasen, has Asperger's Syndrome, which is a form or a part of the autism spectrum.

And in Boston is Nancy Wiseman, the founder and president of First Signs, a nonprofit national organization dedicated to educating parents and professionals about the early warning signs of autism, the author of the book "Could It Be Autism?: A Parent's Guide to the First Signs and Next Steps."

Pediatricians urge early autism screening
By Elizabeth Cohen

ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- From the time her daughter was very young, Briana Vartanian knew something was wrong.

Lola didn't smile. She didn't laugh. When she and Lola took walks in the park, Vartanian noticed how the other babies loved to be held by their mothers. Lola hated being touched and even more being held. But there was something even more devastating to Vartanian, who lives in Ladera Ranch, California.

"Lola never looked at me -- she looked through me. She had no idea who Mommy was," Vartanian said. "And other kids love it when someone comes up to them and smiles. She'd freak out if someone approached her -- even if it was me or my husband."

Vartanian told her pediatrician she was worried, the doctor told her Lola was fine. "She kept telling me wait and see, wait and see, and that really annoyed me," Vartanian said.

At first she took the took the doctor's advice but then decided to seek a second opinion. A couple of months ago, when Lola was 14 months old, she saw a pediatric neurologist, who diagnosed autism. Lola immediately started receiving special therapy.

"You always wonder if it would have made a difference if they'd caught it earlier," Vartanian said.

The American Academy of Pediatrics is making a push to have every child screened for autism twice by age 2. The academy's new report gives explicit instructions for the warning signs of autism at various ages.

Parents should watch for signs, including not making eye contact, not recognizing a parent's voice, not babbling by age 9 months and not using pre-speech gestures such as waving, pointing and showing...

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