Autism: Big Picture and Telluride

Autism: Big Picture and Telluride

[click “Play” to listen to Susan’s conversation with Dr. Howard Savin]

Dr. Howard Savin

April is National Autism Month, and once again Telluride is on the map. Annie Clark, an OT and yoga instructor, heads the Autism and Behavioral Consultation Team (ABCT), designated a Model Autism Team by the Colorado Department of Education (CDE), working to develop increasingly comprehensive family support inside and outside the school systems in five districts: Ouray, Ridgway, Norwood, the West End and Telluride.

Autism is a general term used to describe a group of complex spectrum of developmental brain disorders known as Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD). Autism produces significant impairment in social, communicative, cognitive, and behavioral functioning, typically lasting a person’s lifetime.

Autism may affect as many as 1 in every 110 children, making it a more common condition than pediatric cancer, diabetes and AIDS combined.  An estimated 1.5 million individuals in the U.S. and tens of millions worldwide are affected by autism. Government statistics suggest the prevalence rate of autism is increasing 10-17 percent annually. Studies show a diagnosis of autism is much more common in males than in females. A 2006 report indicated one in 70 boys in the nation have an autism diagnosis in contrast to only one in 315 girls on the autism spectrum.

According to Steven Moldin, Ph.D., research professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Keck School of Medicine at USC, some of the early warning signs include:

• Losing or not having speech around 18 months
• Little to no eye contact
• Loss or lack of gestures
• Repetitive speech or actions
• Unusual reactions to the way things look, feel, smell, taste or sound

The cause? Up for grabs, “idiopathic,” in the jargon of the trade, but multiple genetic components are likely perps, especially when impacted by environmental factors. Vaccines? The debate rolls on. One thing’s for sure, no one is pointing a finger at bad parenting as was suggested by the psychiatrist who first described autism back in 1943.

Part-time Telluride local Dr. Howard Savin, Ph.D. is an experienced  senior manager and  practitioner with more than 30 years of accomplishment in the fields of organized behavioral health care, child/adolescent and medical psychology. He is also pioneer in the managed behavioral healthcare arena.

From July 1995 through June  2004, Savin served as Senior Vice President and Chief Clinical Officer of the Devereux Foundation, a nationwide, non-profit network of treatment programs for individuals with emotional, behavioral and developmental needs. Since leaving Devereux, Savin has resumed a consulting practice assisting businesses, investors, provider groups, and governmental agencies with due diligence, systems of care, and business development.

Savin serves as a Board Member of the American College of Mental Health Administration and is a Population Health Associate at Thomas Jefferson University. He has vast experience dealing with the autism spectrum of neuro-biological disorders.

The following is Savin’s list of recommended websites and publications for families dealing with the fallout from autism.

Competency-based Web Courses for Parents, Teachers and Clinicians

Not My Boy!: A Father, A Son, and One Family’s Journey with Autism by Rodney Peete and Danelle Morton (2010: HollyRod Entertainment), a new book by a former NFL player and his wife regarding their proactive approach in addressing their son’s autism.

For an overview on autism during National Autism month, click the “play” button and listen to Dr. Savin’s podcast.
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