Tupelo, MS: Over 11,000 kids with ASD in MS; pediatrician admits being clueless as to the cause

Jan 28, 2018, Tupelo (MS) Daily Journal: Autism Center holds major weekend conference The Autism Center of North Mississippi held its first Autism Resources Conference at the Tupelo Country Club Saturday morning, bringing together families, educators, social workers and medical professionals, to discuss resources available for children on the autism spectrum. “I thought maybe 60 or 70 people would come, but the Country Club can only hold like 125, and it filled up in like two weeks,” said Brittany Cuevas, director of business development and administration at The Autism Center of North Mississippi. ... “These parents don’t know where to go or what to do, so we wanted to have a free conference where parents could come, hear a couple of speakers so they could be more informed, ask questions and connect with other parents,” Cuevas said. …. Stratton-Gadke stressed the need for more school psychologists, not just because understaffing is major detriment to the diagnosis and treatment of autism in Mississippi, but school psychologists understand how the school system works, and with that experience, can work with schools efficiently. … Junkin laid it down straight for parents, saying families should be realistic about what to expect from the school system and medical providers, and understand how dependent their child may be, depending on the severity of the condition. “There’s nothing I fear more than leaving this world before my daughter does,” Junkin said. Junkin said families can request the Institute’s three-hour “parent boot camp” covering communication and conflict resolution be brought to their communities. Shane Scott, a pediatrician at the Internal Medicine and Pediatric Clinic in New Albany, discussed diagnoses, saying there is currently no “smoking gun” as to why the condition occurs, but parents should focus on early prevention by seeking a diagnosis before the age of four. Autism spectrum disorder affects over 11,000 children in the state, and 1,500 just in Northeast Mississippi.