One (1) in fifty (50) children now diagnosed with Autism, up from one (1) in eighty-eight (88) in 2007. What can cause such an increase in such a short a period of time? Is it more of an awareness? An epidemic? Better testing? Or is it in fact over - diagnosis?
As we know, Autism is a spectrum disorder, which means a person can have it and be on the very low end or go all the way to the very high end of the spectrum.
I've worked in a District 75 environment (not naming names) at the beginning of my career with let's call them for now mostly high functioning children where I was pressured to do things and write reports that I believed to be false and not entirely accurate . Why did I do those things? Believe me, I argued and cried. I knew it was wrong. But it was my first job, I was bullied, I left after 2 months and learned a very valuable lesson.
The improper reports on the Speech and Language side of things, consisted mostly of 4 and 5 year old children who when tested/evaluated mostly passed via the CELF-4 and the PLS -4. When reporting the passing results to my Supervisor, not only was I asked, but at times she took over and re-wrote sections of my report to creatively make it appear as though these children had "difficulty paying attention" in order to keep these children in Speech Services, keep them in Early Intervention and keep them with a diagnosis of Autism. By keeping the child in that or any District 75 school, that school continues receiving their funds on that childs' behalf. I was informed by my superior that it was not such a big deal b/c by the time the child "aged out", most of these children would lose their diagnosis...
Can situations like the one I described above be contributing to the over diagnosis of Autism?
We also need to consider the change in the diagnostic criteria not too long ago.....
You can read more about this article at Reuters.com
Amy Reinstein, M.S., CCC - SLP