Behavioral Healthcare

How One Psychiatrist Supports Patients with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Integrated Psychiatric Consultants | December 1, 2020

Pravesh Deotale, M.D., supports families with children with Autism Spectrum Disorder in addition to other behavioral health issues. He has advanced medical degrees, professional experience around the world, and even a recent MBA — a testament to his well-rounded and successful career in behavioral health.

Dr. Deotale, we were able to ask about his perspectives on Autism Spectrum Disorder, support for patients, and the direction of the diagnosis.

What is the clinical definition of Austism Spectrum Disorder?

Autism spectrum disorder is a neurological and developmental disorder that affects how people interact with others, communicate, learn, and behave. Although autism can be diagnosed at any age, it is described as a “developmental disorder” because symptoms generally appear in the first 2 years of life.

Disorders such as Autism, like Autism disorder, Asperger’s Syndrome, are now combined into single diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder.

At one end of the spectrum, you have someone who is able to succeed in a very traditional school or job, while at the other end one may have significant intellectual impairment and will need an extensive support system throughout their lives. So, as the name suggests, the spectrum is broad and spans across a range — from level one which needs a low level of support to level three, which requires a high level of support.

Why is There A Single Category Diagnosis for Autism Spectrum Disorder?

The core difference between the diagnoses when they were separated was the level of functioning, so to integrate more patients into the community and to share more resources was one factor. Another factor was the research that was conducted on patients with ASD — it was very difficult with the separate diagnoses to pool the data and come up with a general consensus or plan for treatment. So, to avoid confusion, Psychiatrists decided that there needed to be a single category for diagnosis so that there are more homogenous services and more integration of the specialty in treating those patients.

How much do we know about the disorder?

Well, right now we don’t know the exact cause of Autism Spectrum Disorder. The current research does demonstrate that there is no single cause for the multiple factors that contribute to somebody developing an ASD. Having even an immediate family member with ASD is a risk factor, as are genetic conditions, being born to older parents, fetal exposure to medications, et cetera.

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