Dr. Miranda: Unfortunately, Aspergers is a behaviorally laden diagnosis. As a result, many children may present Asperger-like symptoms when, in fact, another problem is responsible or also present. In this case, a competent professional, such as a pediatric neurologist, should be consulted to make such a determination. To ensure an accurate diagnosis, an MRI scan of the brain, coupled with an EEG, should be performed.
"Do you believe there is a relationship or connection between autism and ADHD? Why, or why not?"
C.J L.; Boise, Idaho
Dr. Miranda: While the actual causes of autism are unknown, we know that when it presents, it affects the language centers of the brain at the cellular level. Attentional deficit can be caused by sleep disorders or frontal lobe problems, with many other potential causes in-between. Truthfully, despite great gains in methods of treatment/diagnosis of autism and ADHD, their causes, as well as how, and if they are linked to one another, still remains a mystery. This is, unfortunately, a complex subject that we could discuss for a whole day and still not scratch the surface of.
"I heard you mention that these tests can be used to diagnose ADHD as well. My son was diagnosed with PDD (an autism spectrum disorder) along with ADHD. I never thought he had either. Would this type of test be helpful, and where could I find out about the test? What is it called and is it covered by insurance?"
T.N.l; Manassas, VA
Dr. Miranda: The two primary neurological tests that can be used for accurate diagnosis are MRI with an EEG. Both of these tests are extremely helpful in making an accurate determination of precisely what may be affecting your child, neurologically. There are a few locations in your general area that can perform these tests competently and effectively. Both Children's Hospital in Boston, as well as Kennedy Krieger at Johns Hopkins are very skilled at working up these kinds of tests. Bright Minds will likely be opening an office in the Virginia area in the next six months. Unfortunately, insurance coverage varies so widely from plan to plan that it would be impossible to determine what an individual's benefits would encompass without specific information.
"Hello! I have two boys with autism, ages four and six. Both are non-verbal. Both of the boys' heads have increased head circumference. My question is: what are some of the symptoms of the children who have had success with the anti-seizure medicine, physical and developmental?"
M.S.; Sevierville, TN
Dr. Miranda: Unfortunately, it is extremely difficult to give specifically relevant information about the potential benefit of medications without knowing more details about your childrens' case. In many cases, children may have similar symptoms while the areas of their brain affected, differ. This is the reason why behavioral measures alone are often not sufficient to determine precisely what is ailing children. One would have to know more specifically about your children to help you effectively. However, I can advise that if you have two children with autism, a series of genetic testing for you and your husband may be of great value in gaining more insight into the potential causes of your childrens' autistic presentation. This testing may also aid in determining what medication regimen would provide the greatest benefit for your two sons.