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Understanding Autism with Asma J. Sadiq, MD

Learn about pediatrician and child development expert Asma J. Sadiq, M.D., one of Howcast's autism experts, in this video.


Hi, I'm Dr. Asma Jamil Sadiq. I'm a developmental pediatrician. I've been working at Beth Israel Medical Center's director of child development since 1997. We're now merging with Mount Sinai, so there are going to be a lot of changes in case you need to track me down. But, I have an interesting journey in how I got into this work. I worked initially as a pediatrician, having come from Pakistan to Harlem Hospital, and having trained and worked with general pediatrics and going into private practice and working with asthma, immunization, et cetera, and I always was interested in working with self esteem. I wanted to immunize children with their self esteem, and I got into child development. So, working with children, as a pediatrician, I actually stepped down from a private practice and went and did a fellowship at Hackensack Medical Center in Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics.

Different boards came in with neurodevelopmental, developmental behavioral. I did them both because I wanted to have my credentials right, but I got an interesting opportunity while I was working at Beth Israel to do a fellowship, or a faculty development program, in Integrated Medicine. I actually did a 2-year fellowship in Integrative Medicine through the University of Arizona with the Dr. Andrew Weil program, and it allowed me and taught me to widen my spectrum and my approach as I worked with children with developmental disabilities. From using a lot more holistic, I think as pediatricians, we are holistic. We work with the child, we work with the family, we involve the community and schools, and that is just who we are.

But, using other modalities of getting into nutrition and using supplements and using herbs and other paradigms was very interesting for me and something that parents are also looking for. So, the combination seemed to work as an area of interest for me and also a need of parents because it gives them a little bit more control. I think parents are actually the ultimate caregivers. They are the advocates for their children, and, as they develop, we are their partners, and that's how I see it. That is my philosophy that I listen to the parent. I've listened to their concerns, their gut, their experience with their child because every child is individual, and the parent is very significant in giving you that information. So, you need to be a good listener to be a good healer because the healing process happens together. I am very passionate about this work.

I feel that children are really the canaries in the coal mine and the most vulnerable, and it really brings parents and people and community together. People will do more for their children than for themselves, and when you see a child having an issue; it pulls the whole family together. It can throw apart and challenge it, but, generally, people go beyond themselves for their child, and that is, for me, a very significant bond and something that makes me go beyond myself. I think this kind of work appeals to me both at an emotional level, being a parent myself, but also at an academic level because there is so much new research that is happening and so many more tools and interventions that we can do with children, especially children who are diagnosed with all the symptoms of autism.

I see it like the tip of the iceberg. That is, diagnosis of speech delay, obsessive, OCD, and a little bit of what we call other conditions. All this labeling, the subsets of social phobia or OCD. I think the way we understand medicine is changing because we are now learning to understand these children differently and work with biomedical individuality, which makes this work very special.

So, in this series, we're going to cover different aspects of children with autism spectrum disorders and commonly asked questions and concerns that parents have, that they go looking up trying to find information for their child. I've tried to give an overview of diagnostic criteria of common behaviors, of early red-flag signs that are of concern, of different therapeutic modalities, educational interventions, behavioral interventions, as well as some medical and biomedical approaches, as well as the research that's out there. And, little nuggets of my experience and little tips that I can share with you. I hope this is useful and I'm available. I'm sure you can track me down, but I work in Beth Israel Medical Center, part of the Mount Sinai Medical System, and I love working with special children because I do think these children are very special.

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