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Your ATN@Work: “Autism Speaks Toolkits: Resources for Busy Physicians”

By pediatric psychologist Jayne Bellando, of the Arkansas Children’s Hospital and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, in Little Rock. The hospital and medical school are part of the Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network (ATN).

Your child’s primary-care physician is your first line of support. Ideally, he or she knows your child’s medical history better than anyone – except you. This is your “go-to” doctor for day-to-day advice and help.

We also understand that primary care physicians are among the busiest in healthcare. It can be difficult for them to keep up with the latest and best information on the many medical and behavioral issues affecting their young patients.

With this in mind, the core mission of the Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network (ATN) includes partnering with primary care physicians across North America. The ATN provide a wealth of educational, medical and treatment resources for both healthcare providers and families. We do this in many ways, including the development of screening and treatment guidelines for children with autism and the medical conditions commonly associated with it.

As you may know, the ATN has also developed an informative and broad line of tool kits for families and medical professionals. These guidebooks are being produced as part of the ATN’s role as the federally funded Autism Research Network for Physical Health (AIR-P).

All our ATN/AIR-P tool kits are available for free download from the Autism Speaks website. (Follow the text link.) And we know from feedback that they’re tremendously helpful in improving healthcare and daily life for children on the autism spectrum.

But we need more ways to get these wonderful tools into the hands of more healthcare providers.

With this in mind, my colleagues Jill Fussell and Maya Lopez and I wrote “Autism Speaks Toolkits:  Resources for Busy Physicians” and submitted it for publication in the widely read and highly respected journal Clinical Pediatrics. Drs. Fussell and Lopez are both developmental-behavioral pediatricians practicing at our ATN site here in Little Rock. 

The stated mission of Clinical Pediatrics is to present “state-of-the-art, accurate, concise and down-to earth information on practical, everyday child care topics whether they are clinical, scientific, behavioral, educational or ethical.”

So we knew the journal would be a great venue for telling pediatricians about the Autism Speaks tool kits. Given the increased prevalence of autism, it’s likely that many if not most busy primary care practices are providing care to patients on the autism spectrum.

Our article serves to familiarize them with the Autism Speaks tool kits that have been designed to increase physicians’ understanding of the issues frequently encountered by our families. These tool kits are important tools for improving a physician’s ability to discuss evidence-based information and strategies with our families while guiding their children’s care.

Specifically, the journal article includes sections on Autism Speaks tool kits that:

* help the physician treat medical issues common among children with autism,

* help the physician and family manage challenging behaviors,

* guide discussion of evidence-based educational approaches for students with autism

* help families access appropriate support in the school system and

* guide the healthcare team and family through the pediatric patient’s transition to adulthood.

The journal’s editorial board saw the great value of this submission. They published the article this month. What’s more, the journal is generously allowing us to provide the Autism Speaks community – and all this website’s readers – with free access to the full article for the next three months (mid-July through mid-September 2015).

We hope you will download and share it with your child’s doctors as well as teachers, therapists, other family members and friends. The more informed your child’s team becomes, the more prepared it will be to help your child with current issues and new ones in the months and years ahead.

We trust you’ll find the article a helpful way to quickly summarize the wealth of information these guidebooks make available to your child’s doctors and other caregivers.

Our goal is to get this information to the people who can best support you and your family.

In closing, my co-authors and I would like to thank the Autism Speaks community for supporting the ATN and the important work we are doing through it.

Also by Jayne Bellando:

Autism & Eating Challenges: You Are Not Alone!

Helping Families with Feeding Issues

Exploring Feeding Behavior in Autism: A Parent’s Guide

* Learn more about the Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network here.
* Find the ATN center nearest you 
* Explore our archive of ATN expert-advice blogs and news stories 

The Autism Speaks blog features opinions from people throughout the autism community. Each blog represents the point of view of the author and does not necessarily reflect Autism Speaks' beliefs or point of view.