It is estimated that perhaps one in thirty children born today in the United States will be diagnosed with an autistic spectrum disorder (ASD). This is one child per kindergarten class, and it appears to be rising rapidly. There is no question in Dr. Trifiletti’s mind that autism is among the most important childhood diseases, and more must be done to more efficiently diagnose and treat it.
Dr. T’s interest in autism pre-dated his interest in PANDAS/PANS. In fact, his eagerness to study and treat PANDAS/PANS sprang largely from the realization that PANDAS/PANS in the youngest (0-3 yr old) child can be indistinguishable from autism. Understanding PANDAS/PANS gives us an approach to understanding one aspect of autism.
Unfortunately, once parents suspect their child might have autism, there are two factors that delay the diagnosis and proper treatment. One, sadly, is often the pediatrician. There can be a “wait and see” approach for referral to a developmental specialist who often renders the “official diagnosis.” Secondly, the backlog in seeing that specialist can be many months. It is not uncommon for a child suspected to have autism to wait 12-24 months for an “official” diagnosis and resumption of therapy. This is, in Dr. T's opinion, too long.
Therefore, we are starting the EARLY AUTISM INITIATIVE. The goal is to accurately assess the possibility of autism as early as possible. This involves the following:
Comprehensive history and physical exam
Extensive testing for PANDAS/PANS
Genetic testing – chromosome microarray and whole exome sequencing. The whole exome sequencing will be subject to Dr. Trifiletti’s advanced interpretation.
We are confident that within 3 months and for very reasonable cost a diagnosis of autism can be established or refuted AND its likely cause can be found. PANDAS/PANS, if found, can be treated and expedited referral to developmental specialists for standardized diagnosis established in a timely fashion.
Personalized treatment will begin based on the laboratory and genetic findings. Such findings will also guide the performance of radiological and biochemical genetics studies, if necessary. The treatment options going forward can include standard modalities such as ABA, dietary changes and supplement, but is now tailored to the early laboratory findings.
THE RESULT – a much more time and cost-effective way to begin the most scientifically-reasonable treatment program for a given child.