Dr. Adiaha Spinks-Franklin Answers Questions on Autism and Children

Dr. Adiaha I. A. Spinks-Franklin, MD
Dr. Adiaha I. A. Spinks-Franklin, MD

Dr. Adiaha I. A. Spinks-Franklin, MD is a Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrician in the Meyer Center for Developmental Pediatrics at Texas Children’s Hospital and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics for Baylor College of Medicine. Dr. Spinks-Franklin is the Associate Fellowship Director for the Developmental-Behavioral Pediatric Fellowship at Texas Children’s Hospital/Baylor College of Medicine.

She joined the Baylor faculty in 2005. Franklin evaluates children with developmental and behavioral concerns, specializing in research that investigate health disparities in children with autism spectrum disorders, the mental health impact of adoption on children, and the cultural aspects of child development, including how racial and ethnic identity development influence academic outcomes.

Dr. Spinks-Frankin, a native Texan, is married with three sons.She has been involved in a number of pediatric healthcare projects internationally, in countries including Senegal, West Africa, Guyana, South America, Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Spinks-Franklin hold a B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin and is a graduate of Meharry Medical College School of Medicine in Nashville, Tennessee.

Why are there so many more autistic children today?

We have increased public awareness and better ways of diagnosing children. Now schools are also able to test and diagnose children with autism.

Could autism be caused by our diets and all the hormones that are being put in our food?

No. Research has shown no connection between food products, preservatives or food hormones and autism.

What about prevention?

Unfortunately, we do not have any methods to prevent autism.

How can I help my child understand that another child is autistic?

There are good children’s books out there, such as “My Brother Charlie” by Holly Robinson Peete and her daughter.

Is sensory processing disorder the same as autism?

No they are not the same. “Sensory processing disorder” is not a medical diagnosis, but it refers to when a person is very sensitive to sounds, tastes, textures, etc around them. Children with autism can be very sensitive to certain sensory information such as loud sounds, strong smells, and certain food tastes and textures.

What are he clinical signs and symptoms of autism?

Poor social-communication skills (e.g., lack of eye contact, very delayed in learning to talk, repeating lines from commercials or TV shows inappropriately, not playing interactively appropriately) and unusual behaviors (e.g., doing the same thing over and again, rocking, spinning, flapping hands, lining up toys, not playing with toys correctly, getting upset when there are changes and transitions). Go to the CDC.gov web site for more detail.

How do you get checked for autism?

Please take the child to their primary care provider and tell the doctor you are concerned your child may have autism. There are a number of things the doctor can do during an office visit to screen for autism, including questionnaires a parent can fill out. However, do not wait. Get the child checked out immediately.

Can they out grow it?

Unfortunately no. Autism is a lifelong neurodevelopmental disability.

In what age is it mostly found in?

Autism is found in all age groups from infants to adults. It can be diagnosed as early as 18 months by a really good specialist (e.g., Developmental Pediatrician, Child Psychologist. Many children can be diagnosed with autism at age 2 years.

What can we do to lessen the chance of Autism in the womb?

We do not have any information on what to do to prevent autism. There is lots of ongoing research to try and figure that out.

I recently had my 3yr old tested for autism. He turned out he has ADHD, which also requires therapy.

Yes, ADHD and autism are two different diagnoses. Yes children with ADHD need academic support in school and help with their behaviors.

Is autism found in females?

Yes. Autism is 5 times more common in boys than in girls, but boys AND girls have autism.

Can you be mildly autistic? Can an adult be diagnosed or tested to see if their artistic or is it too late diagnose?

Good questions. Yes, some people have milder forms of autism, meaning that their symptoms are more subtle than others. Yes an adult can be evaluated to see whether or not they have autism by an adult mental health specialist (e.g., Psychologist, Psychiatrist) who is experienced in working with patients with autism. It is not too late.

Can a seizure cause autozone?

Seizures do not cause autism. However, children with autism can have seizures.

I would like to know where I can see this research she mentioned proving autism is not a product of vaccines. I have infallible research proving her absolutely wrong.

There are hundreds of valid, rigorous studies that can be easily accessed from PubMed, Google Scholar, and many other reputable sources. Also go to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention web site http://www.cdc.gov. The connection between autism and vaccines is a myth dating back to the late 90s and has been disproven many times. There are numerous children with autism worldwide who have never even had vaccines. Symptoms of autism are evident before a child starts to receive vaccines. Autism is a very complex neurodevelopmental disability and we do not yet know exactly what causes it. However, we are certain it is NOT vaccines.

Is it true that there is a higher prevalence of autism in children who parents conceived them over the age of 40?

Yes, there is some evidence to suggest that children of older mothers AND older fathers are at increased risk of developing autism.

How do I receive a diagnosis for my son? He already has an IEP in place with Significant Developmental Delay as the label.

I am happy to hear your son has an Individual Education Plan (IEP) at school. You may ask the special education evaluation team to evaluate him specifically for autism.

Can one have autism and be functional?

Yes as long as the individual receives the help and interventions they need, such as behavior therapy, speech and language therapy, occupational therapy and appropriate school services.

Will you please explain on the radio that autism and mental retardation are two different things? Please do not let the callers get that confused.

Yes, Autism and Mental Retardation (now called “Intellectual Disability”) are two different diagnoses. Autism is a problem with social skills, communication skills, and unusual behaviors. Intellectual Disability means a person is delayed in all areas of development including talking, walking, learning, thinking, socializing, and caring for themselves. Both are lifelong conditions and do not go away. Half of people with Autism also have Intellectual Disabilities as well.

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SOURCE: Elev8

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