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Patient-Centered Guides

July 15, 2002

Autism Spectrum Disorders:
Behind the Controversies in the News

SEBASTOPOL, CA -- Increasingly, the public is aware of autism.

  • The number of children diagnosed with autism is rising significantly; that rise is increasingly noted and reported on.

  • Speculation about causes range from genetic to environmental--and combinations of the two.

  • Parents argue with public health experts over whether childhood immunizations have a role in the sudden onset of autism in their toddlers.

  • Persons on the high-functioning end of the autistic spectrum occupy prominent, well-paid, and respected technical positions and "geek culture" is accepted as part of American life.

  • President Bush calls for parity in insurance coverage for mental disorders, reflecting the political reality of successful lobbying for help by the public for help with their families.

  • Congressmen (such as Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind, whose grandson, Christopher, is autistic) call for more money for autism research.
Autism is a condition that profoundly affects the lives of families. There are difficulties in getting a precise diagnosis, particularly since autism is a range of disorders and since other conditions may accompany it. There are difficulties in treatment--getting insurance coverage, deciding among the range of therapies touted as beneficial, figuring out if dietary changes might help, getting a child into the right classroom environment. And there are difficulties in coping-trying to understand what is going on, finding the time and strength to be an effective advocate, getting rest and support, and coping with stresses on the parents' marriage and on other children in the family.

In this "Autistic Spectrum Disorders" interview with Mitzi Waltz", author-advocate Waltz answers questions about autism that are currently in the news.

About the author

Mitzi Waltz has been a professional author, journalist, and editor for over a decade, covering topics ranging from computers to health care. She is the author of six books for people with brain disorders. Her latest book, Autistic Spectrum Disorders, is an updated and expanded edition of the earlier title, Pervasive Developmental Disorders. Other titles include Adult Bipolar Disorders, Bipolar Disorders (childhood and adolescent disorders), Tourette's Syndrome, Partial Seizure Disorders, and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders.

After working as an advocate for people with brain disorders for a number of years, Ms. Waltz is pursuing a doctorate in order to teach and conduct academic research. She is currently with the Autism Research Unit at the University of Sunderland in England. The ARU is well-known internationally for its work on the relationship between autism and metabolic disorders. Waltz's doctoral research is focused on the medical history of autism, and she has presented to audiences in the UK and Europe on this topic and others related to autism.

About the book

Autistic Spectrum Disorders is written for parents (or newly diagnosed adults) who struggle with these neurological conditions that profoundly impact the life of child and family. Author and patient advocate Mitzi Waltz incorporates the latest medical findings on possible causes for ASDs and on treatments.

Topics include:

  • Getting a diagnosis, including preparing for a diagnostic interview in a medical, psychiatric, or school setting

  • Treatment options, including pharmaceutical medications, vitamins and supplements, sensory integration, occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy, behavior modification, floor time play therapy, talk therapy, and others

  • Coping with diagnosis and treatment, including emotions and support systems, insurance system, and educational plans

  • Stories from dozens of families living with autistic spectrum disorders
A complementary review copy is available for the media.

Autistic Spectrum Disorders: Finding a Diagnosis & Getting Help
By Mitzi Waltz
$29.95, 504 pages, 7" x 9", trade paperback
ISBN: 0-596-50013-0

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