Congratulations to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Two of their recent clinical reports published in Pediatrics, “Identification and Evaluation of Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders” and “Management of Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders,” will enable pediatricians to address parent concerns sooner, facilitating the early identification of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). As physicians and developmentalists with decades of accumulated experience in working with children with developmental challenges, we applaud and welcome these publications. However, we would like to expand on these reports. In this commentary we (1) describe a broader functional/developmental framework for screening for ASDs, (2) provide a critique of the current trend toward behavioral treatments as primary intervention strategies, and (3) present research evidence for functional/developmental approaches.

A broader and more refined “functional” developmental framework looks for compromises in the child's healthy milestones and helps parents and other caregivers work with the...

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