MAPS 2012 Autism Conference

It is exciting to report that this past weekend I attended the First-Annual-Second-Level training sessions for the newly forming Medical Academy of Pediatric Special Needs, in Orlando. I won’t describe each presentation, as I have done in previous posts, other than to report the highlights.

For more than eight hours per day, for three days, we were immersed in everything from basic science, to research, to charting, to legal issues, to diagnosis, workup and treatment. The participants are a part of a truly elite group of medical professionals who are willing to work together to help parents find the correct medical care for their special needs child.

As I listened to some of the lectures this time, I was familiar enough with the information to think about how the material applied to children in my medical practice; specifically, who might respond better to some particular medications or supplements. Then, I would consider other patients who might benefit from particular blood and/or urine testing. Occasionally, I was alerted to possible negative reactions that I hadn’t heard about or procedures that I wanted to experience. After several years of attending similar seminars, I could pick out the other doctors who had similar philosophies, and we traded clinical information.

The most talked about topics were:

1. Memantine. This is a drug used to help people with Alzheimer’s disease to think and perform daily activities more easily. There was a fair amount of clinical experience among the participants, so trying this medication in selected patients seems to be worth a try. Additionally, there is apparently a more rigorous soon-to-be-published study that will give valuable information about its use.

2. Oxytocin. It’s getting more buzz, and it appears to be safe. It’s efficacy in this condition remains to be seen, however.  I heard various opinions on whether its use resulted in any real improvement, especially in eye contact and socialization.

3. The most common topics throughout the conference were inflammation, gut health, how the central nervous system is affected in ASD,  mitochondrial dysfunction, diet and the environment.

Networking with the other members is always a key factor to our enjoyment at such seminars. Lecturers included such autism luminaries as Drs. Dan Rossignol, Martha Herbert and Arthur Krigsman.

Earlier, I overheard a prospective society member inquire about the rigors of joining MAPS, including whether there might be a formal examination in the future. I later told the Program Director that she didn’t need to waffle about her response. “The answer should be ‘hell yes,'” I said. I’m proud to have taken the time to master the basic sciences and learn from from the experience of really smart medical professionals. We should be taking this opportunity a couple of times per year to discuss these enormous problems and all possible medical solutions. I’m glad to take a test to prove my knowledge.

It helps separate me from the Internet.

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