The number of children being diagnosed with autism is ever increasingly on the rise. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recently reported that autism is almost twice as common as it was five years ago. About twenty years ago, only a few per ten thousand children were diagnosed with autism. Currently, one in eighty-eight children are diagnosed
according to the latest figures. Autism has changed from a condition practically unheard of to something we hear about quite often. Why did this dramatic increase occur?
The CDC is not sure why there is such an increase. It could be that the definition of autism has broadened which actually could lead to misdiagnosis. Forty years ago, only kids with severe language and social impairments or unusual repetitive behaviors, were diagnosed with autism. Today the criteria has been changed to include milder symptoms and it is all under the
umbrella of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). This means that a wide variety of
symptoms could be called ASD.
There is definitely a non-optimum condition present that parents need help with, but autism is diagnosed purely on judgments regarding behavior and not on biological tests or blood tests. This opens the door for autism misdiagnosis. No exact science exists to diagnose the lack of
sociability, interaction, tantrums or repetitiveness. As a result, psychiatrists only treat these symptoms because they have no medical or scientific proof that any disorder exists in the body.
With a variety of symptoms to treat, psychiatrists can prescribe dangerous mind-altering psychiatric drugs with serious adverse side effects. Behavior therapy can cost up to forty-thousand dollars for just one child. Needless to say, autism is big business with the potential for big profits from sales of drugs and therapy. Autism misdiagnosis just adds to those profits.
There is an abundance of state-financed support services which also could be a reason for the increase in diagnoses.
It also should be noted that an increase in research on autism took place after the year 2000 and coinciding with that was an increase in autism diagnoses. Initially the research was mandated by the government, but when one considers that pharmaceutical companies very often fund research
studies, it makes one wonder who really is to benefit by the research? Research usually results in new drugs which support pharmaceutical companies’ big interest in profits.
There is no doubt that autism cases are on the rise and the possibilities for misdiagnosis are ample. However, with no precise pathological tools to diagnose autism and a wide spectrum of symptoms to treat, it would be wise to get as much information as possible about autism so that one
can make informed decisions regarding treatment.