Print version ISSN 0185-3325
MARQUEZ-CARAVEO, María Elena and ALBORES-GALLO, Lilia. Autistic spectrum disorders: Diagnostic and therapeutic challenges in Mexico. Salud Ment [online]. 2011, vol.34, n.5, pp. 435-441. ISSN 0185-3325.
Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are developmental disorders with impairments in three broad domains: social interaction, communication and stereotypic movements and repetitive behavior. Their symptoms are complex, bizarre and most of them persistent, causing maladaptive and poor psychosocial adjustment. Early detection and diagnosis is a priority in ASD, parents are the first to notice early autism symptoms: 50% observe signs in the first 12 months of age. Despite initial observations of atypical development, there are significant delays in seeking proper medical attention and correct diagnosis; less than 38% of families receive their diagnosis through health services. Educational and health primary care providers need training in developmental milestones with focus on language and socio-communicative domains. Health policy planners should facilitate rationale referral when key symptoms such as language alterations are detected. The use of valid instruments and surveillance approaches versus awareness through red flag symptoms is discussed. Psychosocial interventions are the most important treatment, with ABA and TEACHH techniques recommended; pharmacological treatment (atypical antipsychotics, antidepressants, drugs for hyperactivity, sleep problems and anxiety) must be directed to treat comorbid conditions and combined with behavioral interventions.
Keywords : Autistic disorders; treatment; psychosocial interventions; pharmacological therapy; Mexico.