Monday, September 6, 2010

Five Years Ago, Autism Was Different

I had conversation with a parent, not long ago, where I told her that I thought she was right, her daughter did appear to have a mild form of autism. She appreciated the confirmation of what she believed to be true. Doctors and educators who recently evaluated this little girl did not agree with us. "But, there is not a right or wrong on this question" I said.   "Five years ago" I told her, "I would not have thought your daughter had autism."  There is a changing understanding of the diagnosis that we used to call autism.  A growing appreciation that girls with similar neurological challenges may look different than boys is only part of the evolution of understanding of what we now call Autism Spectrum Disorders.

For an interesting review of one study looking at diagnostic practices, look at this article: Social Factors May Drive the Spike in Autism Cases.


Sue said...

What an interesting read. How powerful that parents living near each other and sharing information with each other changes the potential accuracy of a child's diagnosis. Amazing!

Anonymous said...

It is a very particular situation the one of mothers with children having mild forms of autism. I am one of those and in Italy I am getting in touch with several others.
In this situation you live with the hope that you are wrong and that doctors saying no autism signs can be detected are right but at the same time you try to look for someone that will take for serious your concerns.

Anyway I think it is not only a question of broadening the definition of autism in order to get a diagnosis also for these cases, it is also a question of finding a right therapy for these children. In Italy we still rely mianly on drill based approaches.....Therefore when you finnally end up with a diagnosis you are offered a therapy that does not take in account all the stenghts that these children have!!!

Tahirih said...

It is true that the issue of who has autism is not just a subjective judgment but also the doorway, if all goes well, to help for the child. I often tell parents, in cases where the diagnosis is difficult to determine, that regardless of what, ultimately, is decided about the child's diagnosis, right now, the child needs to support in learning to communicate, think flexibly, interact socially, and play.