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JACKSONVILLE, FL, June 26, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Professional Development Resources has announced a new addition to its online continuing education (CE) curriculum for mental health professionals: Autism: The New Spectrum of Diagnostics, Treatment & Nutrition. The course is designed to update psychotherapists on the new diagnostic criteria for autism in the DSM-5 and outline the research on common GI problems, feeding difficulties, and nutrition interventions.
Once considered a relatively low-prevalence condition, autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is currently one of the most common forms of developmental disability, dramatically emerging over the past 25 years as a primary diagnostic condition. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, 2012), prevalence estimates have increased tremendously over the last two decades, from a median prevalence estimate of about 13 per 10,000 in the years between 1987 and 2004 all the way up to 200 per 10,000 in 2012. Such exponential increases have - of course - sparked heated discussions about whether we are experiencing an "epidemic" of ASD.
To further fan the flames, the American Psychiatric Association's most recent revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5, APA 2013) substantially revised the most basic definitions of ASD, setting the stage for ongoing debates about the diagnostic boundaries of this disorder.
"When you combine the dramatic increases in the estimated prevalence of autism with a whole new set of rules by which we will diagnose it, the stage is set for a wild ride," says Leo Christie, President and CEO of Professional Development Resources. "If we needed a further complication, it is the very common occurrence of other conditions in people with autism, including GI problems and feeding issues. So, in short, what we have is a whole new set of diagnostic criteria for a fast-growing population of autistic individuals who challenge families and caregivers with not only their core symptoms, but also with very complex nutrition issues."
Once diagnosed, individuals with autism have the need for interventions in a number of areas, including (but not limited to) behavior modification, communication enhancement, socialization training, classroom management, family participation, and possibly psychopharmacology. This list obviously requires an interdisciplinary approach involving ongoing involvement with those professionals qualified to deliver specialized services in all these areas. Early intervention services will pave the way for progression from the home environment to a much more challenging and complex transition to the classroom - frequently in a mainstream environment.
GI problems (abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, reflux, etc.) are a common occurrence in children with ASD - though it is not clear if rates are significantly higher than in the general population. The research indicates that pediatric patients diagnosed with ASD who exhibit and suffer from a variety of GI symptoms are at risk for problem behaviors, beyond even those associated with ASD itself.
In addition, children with ASD frequently have unusual eating habits. Many have pronounced likes and dislikes when it comes to food. Sometimes these habits prevent a child from having a nutritionally sound diet. Some children show aversions to certain textures, tastes, smells, colors, or even brand names of foods. All of these complications add to the challenges facing parents and caregivers.
Autism: The New Spectrum of Diagnostics, Treatment & Nutrition includes sections on feeding difficulties and offers specific interventions and behavior change techniques. A final section on nutritional considerations discusses evaluation of nutritional status, supplementation, and dietary modifications with an objective look at the science and theory behind a variety of nutrition interventions, including alternative treatments.
About Professional Development Resources, Inc.
Professional Development Resources is a Florida nonprofit educational corporation founded in 1992 by licensed marriage and family therapist Leo Christie, PhD. The company, which is accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA), the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB), the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC), the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics - as well as many other national and state boards - has focused its efforts on making accredited continuing education units more cost-effective and widely accessible to health professionals by offering online home study coursework. Its current expanded curriculum includes a wide variety of clinical topics intended to equip health professionals to offer state-of-the art services to their clients.
Leo Christie, PhD, CEO
Professional Development Resources, Inc.
Professional Development Resources, Inc. is a Florida nonprofit educational corporation 501(c)(3) organized in 1992. Our mission is to provide busy health care professionals with accredited continuing education units on topics that are vital to contemporary clinical practice.
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