“The Autism Treatment Network: Bringing Best Practices to All Children with Autism,” is an article by Coury et al. (2020) from a research network on health that aims to improve the medical aspects of disorders in the autism spectrum. Over the past ten years, the network has conducted more than two dozen clinical studies with such works being disseminated using various presentations at scientific meetings as well as medical journal publications. The article describes past accomplishments and various activities happening currently and outlines various planned undertakings. It discusses challenges that emerge in the support for network activities and solutions that can be used to solve such problems.
The Autism Treatment Network (ATN) began as a group of clinical investigators concerned about medical aspects related to autism spectrum disorders (ASDS). The ATN created a registry where children who were enrolled were described well using evaluations of medical, behavioral, and cognitive measures (Coury et al., 2020). These measures were used to collect research data and create best practices in clinical care. All medical conditions, apart from autism, were documented, making it easier for a better picture of other medical problems that co-occur to emerge.
How the Results and Findings were obtained
In this article, clinicians conducted systematic reviews to quickly determine the best treatment for autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Practice pathways were also developed, tested, and published so that they could be disseminated. The article's findings aimed at dispelling myths that surround gastrointestinal (GI) issues such as constipation and sleep-onset insomnia (Coury et al., 2020). The ATN-AIR-P combined network first conducted systematic reviews. It produced practice pathways that played a significant role in identifying areas that needed additional research in ASD and anxiety screening and diagnosis. The investigators studied children’s nutritional statuses to reveal those at risk of being under or overexposed to vitamins and other vital nutrients.
The researchers studied iron statuses and how they are related to sleep issues and metabolic concerns like bone mineral density and creatine deficiency syndrome (Coury et al., 2020). The network investigators also researched on iron supplements for restless sleep, electronic toilet training alarms, and using metformin to reduce the weight gained from atypical antipsychotic medications. The article majored in three primary network studies from the 20 influential publications of 2017 that were compiled by the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (Coury et al., 2020). A one-year study was conducted to help create further confirmation for the effectiveness of one approach in particular that helped create significant attention in problem standard management. The results acquired provided insights to the efficacy and feasibility of the physical intervention in exercises hence a reduction in children's anxiety from families that do not deserve such children.
ATN-AIR-P investigators conducted a controlled pilot trial that helped examine adapted virtual interventions of the virtual mind-body groups of the parents of children who live with ASD. The network adopted the Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes (ECHO) autism screening tool to achieve effective results (Coury et al., 2020). Therefore, family members were asked to review various research studies that helped create the study design and ideas for research activities to be conducted in the future.
The randomized, placebo-controlled metformin trial for the treatment of challenges experienced from the antipsychotic medication was the best practice used among the others. Data from the ATN Registry showed that sleep-onset insomnia is the most prevalent problem that exists in children and adolescents who live with autism (Coury et al., 2020). The need for clinicians to create better management made it easier to develop pathways for problems realized when sleeping. Such problems are treated using interventions of behavior that help improve sleep hygiene in developing children.
The combination of the Autism Treatment Network and Autism Intervention Research Network on Physical Health (ATN-AIR-P) was effective in demonstrating how behavioral treatments are effective in children who live with ASD. The effectiveness of these interventions was positive because 65% of parents who used them responded that they “strongly agree” when asked whether they had noted any improvements in their children's sleeping habits after using the ATN-AIR-P (Coury et al., 2020). The parents also reported increased positivity in children's behavior as they were able to develop better parenting competence.
The ATN-AIR-P investigators also showed how the intervention effectively treated constipation and developed a positive practice pathway. Collaborating in setting goals improved adherence to treatment and families' engagement, hence better daily and weekly monitoring of parents. 85% of families reported that they realized an improvement and progress towards the set goal (Coury et al., 2020). Primary care providers (PCPs) were able to access families better after clinical practice parameters were developed to handle hyperactivity disorder and irritable behaviors. The findings revealed that children with ASD tend to consume the same amounts of nutrients with those that are matched control.
The research findings supported the best practice and the conclusion because they yielded positivity in acceptability, preliminary efficacy, and feasibility that could be expanded for more evaluation. The findings opened opportunities that helped both the investigators and parents learn new approaches to the acquisition of knowledge and implementation of innovative interventions and treatments. I feel that the findings helped in the creation of learning health networks that enabled various institutions to share data and work together in testing and implementing new ways through which interventions can be provided. The findings support the ATN-AIR-P network, especially on matters concerning hyperactivity disorder and anxiety hence better and quicker identification of clinical trial subjects in the future.
Coury, D. L., Murray, D. S., Fedele, A., Hess, T., Kelly, A., &Kuhlthau, K. A. (2020). The autism treatment network: bringing best practices to all children with autism. Pediatrics, 145(Supplement 1), S13-S19. https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/145/Supplement_1/S13
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