Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Autism Has Been Cured?

Or so the American Psychiatric Association says. The APA has a new diagnostic definition of Autism which will make the one in 110 epidemic go away. What will really happen is that the children with a higher functioning autism spectrum disorder will cease to get the help they need.

Statistics prove that early diagnosis and early intervention is key. Without the diagnosis of PDD-NOS, PDD, Aspergers, and High Functioning Autism, that help will be nonexistent for a lot of families already struggling to make ends meet. Very few insurances pay for the therapies these kids need in order to be functioning adults in society. The estimated costs for some of these therapies can be from $39,000 to $130,000. In Pennsylvania, some programs can be paid by the state with medical assistance. But, to qualify for the medical assistance, the child needs to be declared as disabled. This new definition will have these kids falling through the cracks.

Regardless of a diagnosis, children with autism-like symptoms need professional help. Teachers don't know how to get through to some of these kids to give them the help they need. Unless they are learning support teachers, they just are not taught how to deal with the behavior problems the students with autism spectrum disorders are plagued with, some times due to the stress of school.

On the other side of this debate, the new definition will weed out the children with autism-like behaviors brought on by abuse, neglect, and attention. Schools will not be allowed to make on the run diagnosis in hopes of more funding. There will be a stricter criteria that must be met for a true diagnosis.

Personally, as a mom with a teenager that has a diagnosis of PDD-NOS, this new criteria scares me. My son has a lot of behaviors that he has outgrown, but a lot that he still struggles with on a day to day basis. Without the special programs in the area, he wouldn't be doing as well as he is. But, the new diagnostic definition is a needed change because I, as a parent with a special needs child, see teachers and other adults that are not qualified to do so, make unprofessional opinions on children based solely on the child's behavior. Which is unfair to that child who has now been labeled by someone who is supposed to be advocating for all children. And that child will now be treated differently by the adults around him all because of one biased opinion based solely on behavior.

My hopes for this new development is that there will now be more money spent on therapies for the children and adults that truly need it.

Sherry Vulgamott has been married to her high school sweetheart for 24 years and together they have 3 great kids. In her spare time, Sherry enjoys being with her family and friends, reading, writing, camping, and taking care of her parrots. Sherry invites you to her blog: and asks that you comment on her posts with any questions or statements you have.

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