ESCAP are proud to announce that Joaquin Fuentes, ESCAP autism field advisor, and his ASD working group have generated the first ESCAP practice guidance on autism paper.
ESCAP wants to be at the forefront of providing clear and practical information on mental health issues affecting children and adolescents across Europe. We want to support psychiatric professionals in their training, knowledge and clinical practice. Many good guidance papers exist for autism (NICE, AACAP, Autism Alliance to name a few), however, ESCAP are fully aware that European psychiatrists require more national clinical guidelines and practice guidance papers that can be adapted according to cultural and language differences. In an attempt to offer this to our ESCAP community, we aim to publish practice guidance papers on various disorders in the coming years.
Joaquin Fuentes explains exactly that in the aims for this practice guidance on autism paper, which was to “disseminate information that can be adopted for use in regular clinical practice across Europe. To present clinicians and educators with evidence-based advice on core and minimum standards for good practice in the assessment and treatment of citizens with autism of all ages. We, and I speak in plural, because I had the support of two splendid colleagues: Dr. Amaia Hervás, from Barcelona, and Dr. Patricia Howlin, from London, have fulfilled, as the ESCAP ASD Working Party, the mandate we received from the Board and have generated this fundamental document”. Joaquin offers more insight into the drives and ambitions of this project in a short interview below.
ESCAP and the ASD working party hope that this document reaches all the clinicians and educators that can benefit from its guidance.
And we continued to ask him more questions when the paper was finally published....
What were your main aims for this guidance paper?
“To disseminate information that can be adopted for use in regular clinical practice across Europe. To present clinicians and educators with evidence-based advice on core and minimum standards for good practice in the assessment and treatment of citizens with autism of all ages. We, and I speak in plural, because I had the support of two splendid colleagues: Dr. Amaia Hervás, from Barcelona, and Dr. Patricia Howlin, from London, have fulfilled, as the ESCAP ASD Working Party, the mandate we received from the Board and have generated this fundamental document”.
What do you think the paper gives to the psychiatry community? Does it feel a gap?
“Our child and adolescent psychiatry community is very diverse; but even so, in most European countries, the availability of services is limited. The ESCAP ASD Practice Guidance provides updated advice for the health, educational and social fields. I certainly hope that this material will diminish the existing gaps in between our countries, and improve and harmonize our European approach to this condition”.
How would you anticipate European countries use this paper?
“It must be emphasized that this Practice Guidance has been formally endorsed, for the first time in history, by the Board of ESCAP, and should be, therefore, applicable in the 34 member nations. Our joint hope is to have this document adapted, by local and national experts, to the current conditions, culture and languages of all those countries. We are committed by our ethical mandate towards these citizens and their families”.
Where do you feel that research and clinical assessment will go in the future for autism?
“In our Practice Guidance we insist in individualization and explain how to go behind the clinical diagnosis and understand the person him or herself. To determine strengths and limitations and to liaise with them, and with their legal representatives, in designing a context-friendly plan, that will empower them and maximize their well-being and their clinical, research and community participation. This is, in our view, the road ahead for them and for us. An excellent road for society and an exciting, human and technical, road for our medical specialty”.
Joaquin also adds that “there is a need to demonstrate the validity and reliability of the traditional clinical instruments and methods for economically or socially disadvantaged groups, ethnic or racial minorities, or for individuals with co-occurring disorders. We fully acknowledge and applaud the outstanding accomplishments of those individuals for whom autism may be a benefit, even a gift. Nevertheless, as practitioners, we have a duty to direct our efforts towards those who are disadvantaged by autism; the many millions of citizens across Europe and the world whose human rights, including medical and psychiatric needs, continue to be unmet”.
ESCAP hopes that “these guidance papers will be used by our national member societies and colleagues throughout Europe, in which they can adapt them to country-specific recommendations and even translate the language to generate an international consensus on treating and diagnosing autism” explains ESCAP president Dimitris Anagnostopoulos. He adds, “we are extremely thankful to the ASD working party and Jean-Philippe Raynaud of the ESCAP Clinical Division for their huge efforts in producing such a detailed and essential document”.
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