19
Dec
09

CDC Report: 1 in 110 Children Diagnosed with Autism

Given the appalling statistics regarding the misdiagnosis of autism, this headline is a little misleading. It represents the number of children ‘diagnosed’ with autism, which may or may not represent the number of children who actually have it. The definition of ‘autism spectrum disorder’ is a fluid target and is far more inclusive than it ever used to be. It has essentially become a dumping ground diagnosis for any and all disorders of social and/or intellectual dysfunction that can’t be categorized elsewhere. The diagnosis has become so pervasive that actual experts in the disorder have lost the floor to the ‘anyone can diagnosis it in anybody at any time’ crowd. That’s why statistics like these are so irresponsible. They unnecessarily frighten parents who are at the whims of movement that has lost its perspective in the rush to jump on the bandwagon. Classic autism is a devastating developmental disorder, which is why labeling children with other more benign behavioral disorders is such a huge disservice to the autism community. Being a little different or a little difficult is not a disease. One would hope our government’s main epidemiological clearinghouse would demand better evidence than the subjective diagnosis of millions of children by practitioners who often don’t even agree on what constitutes true autism themselves. I have an autistic niece. She is clearly and profoundly disabled and, at age 18, we have accepted that she most likely will be all of her life. Obviously, there is a spectrum of severity in autism and her experience is not necessarily the norm, but it is extremely irritating to me to hear from parents who “cured” their child’s autism or whose child “outgrew” their autism. Their success is probably more a reflection of a bad diagnosis than of any miraculous recovery due to diet or therapy. These pretenders to the autism label (especially celebrity ones) diminish the true devastation of autism and spread dangerous misinformation.

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