Nevada LEND helping to diagnose autism

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Updated: 2/21 6:25 pm
RENO, Nev. (MyNews4.com & KRNV) -- The challenges in dealing with autism are not unique to our community, so health care professionals from all over the state are coming together to ensure they learn the signs, and act early to make a difference.

It takes a village to raise a child, and that concept is the driving force behind Nevada LEND: Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities.

"We bring together professionals from very different backgrounds," said LEND Co-Director Erika Ryst "We have nurses, doctors, pediatricians, child psychiatrists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, family members. We all come together and we talk about all the different needs of the child, and how we can work together."

By bridging gaps in communication, LEND trainees hope to ensure healthcare providers, educators, and parents learn the signs and act early. LEND Co-Director Debra Vigil says often, children are not diagnosed until age four or five, which is a little late in their development. "One of the things we want to do, is to get those children in for services as early as possible. Because we know they can make many, many changes. Their brain changes and there are so many things that can happen for these children."

Over the past three years, LEND trainees have developed tools to help children early. They unveiled a website to serve as a one-stop resource shop for both health care providers and parents.

It provides milestones children should be reaching as they grow, such as waving goodbye by age 1. It will also provide signs of autism and other neurodevelopmental disabilities. The website will be made public in a few months.

"There seems to be a real community feel here from all over the state," said Andrew Imparato, Executive Director of the Association of University Centers. "That this is an important issue."

Imparato says though Nevada LEND is one of the newer programs in the country, it is one of the most impressive because of its reach across disciplines.

Nevada LEND is one of of 43 LEND programs in the country, and is recruiting trainees for their next class, including parents of children with neurodevelopmental disablities. To learn more, visit the LEND website.
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