Study Aims and Objectives
To provide a pathway for primary care providers to diagnose and treat irritability and problem behaviors in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
Methods- Sample, Procedure, Study Measures, Analysis
A workgroup of six child psychiatrists from current and former Autism Treatment Network sites collaborated with a developmental pediatrician and a behavioral psychologist to create a workflow of best practices for primary care providers to follow for treating children with irritability and problem behaviors.
Results- Main Findings
The practice pathway walks care providers through the steps of assessment and treatment that provide the most desirable outcomes for families dealing with irritability and problem behaviors. This includes conducting safety checks, prioritizing specific treatment areas, and evaluating all possible causes of these issues in individual patients. After the source of irritability problems is discovered, primary care providers will discuss possible treatment options and consider medication management and specialty care when necessary. Care providers then create and implement an individualized treatment and safety plan, being sure to reevaluate the efficacy of this plan every three months. If issues persist or new problem behaviors arise, providers should start the process from the beginning and attempt to readdress the issues currently present.
Conclusion- Summary Statement
Primary care providers have an intimate understanding of the developmental and health needs of their patients and are thus able to provide insightful and individualized care. Irritability and problem behaviors in children with ASD can be reduced when providers follow a clear, sequential pathway that outlines the possible causes and treatments for these issues in this population.