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Last Updated: Thursday, 28 June 2007, 23:08 GMT 00:08 UK
New 'benchmark' for autism care
Outline of boy
Autism affects about 7,500 youngsters in Scotland
Guidelines setting out a "benchmark" for the care of children with autism in Scotland have been published.

It is the first time in the UK that clinicians, parents and carers have drawn up the evidence-based standards.

About 7,500 children and teenagers in Scotland are thought to have some form of autistic spectrum disorder (ASD).

Those behind the guidelines said they would help parents who had until now been faced with information which could be contradictory or even misleading.

The guidelines, developed by the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (Sign), aim to provide a road map of best practice and tried-and-tested treatments.

There is an enormous volume of information out there, much of it contradictory, some of it downright misleading
Alison Leask
Autism Argyll chairwoman

They recommend improvements to the diagnosis and assessment of children with ASD.

However, the authors warned that more research is needed if parents are not to be attracted by the "misleading hype" around possible causes and controversial forms of treatment.

Alison Leask, who chairs Autism Argyll, was a member of the guideline development group.

She said: "Until today, any parent or carer trying to get the best treatment for their child had a huge challenge simply deciding what was credible.

"There is an enormous volume of information out there, much of it contradictory, some of it downright misleading.

"From today, they have a guideline for care in which they can have confidence."

It is deeply frustrating to watch as parents' hopes are raised time and time again, only to see them dashed
Dr Iain McClure
Chairman

Mrs Leask said the advice provided a benchmark which parents could trust.

"That will be enormously valuable in cutting through the mass of misleading advice that can cloud the care of a child with ASD," she added.

The authors said they were unable to say whether therapies such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy were of benefit.

They added that a lack of "robust, transparent evidence" meant they could not comment on whether there was a link between ASD and gluten, casein or heavy metals.

Dr Iain McClure, the group's chairman, said: "Every clinician, parent and carer wants to find an answer to autism, and almost every week we read another story of possible treatments or cures.

"It is deeply frustrating to watch as parents' hopes are raised time and time again, only to see them dashed as we discover that claim after claim simply isn't backed up by the evidence."

He said the research community needed to "take up the challenge" and answer questions about whether these treatments worked.


SEE ALSO
'Agony' of parents over MMR scare
30 Mar 07 |  Scotland
Autistic pupils 'underachieving'
31 Oct 06 |  Scotland

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