Why are so many children being diagnosed with Autism?
There seems to be an epidemic of Autism, should more be done to look into this problem. Some suggest that diet might be a factor. Another source suggests that it could be linked to certain vaccines. I suppose my question is does anyone feel like perhaps some of these diagnosis could be mis-diagnosis?
This is an opinion. But I think it's due to awareness and understanding. 10 years ago, barely anyone knew what autism was, now it's one of the most popular diagnosis in young people. I think we have just come to understand it better. It's not that more people have it, it's just that we can identify it better now. I can remember people from my childhood that I can almost guarantee had it, but no one really knew about it.
I think science is very close to determining the cause(s), and I have my own "theories" (quotes because I don't exactly have the kind of credentials to call my own thoughts on possible causes "theories").
In answer to your main question, though, I don't really think that Autism is a condition that's being over-diagnosed the way so many other conditions are. The signs/traits/behaviors in Autism are fairly obvious once a child has reached a certain state of development, and when left undiagnosed and without therapy, only get worse.
People who are trained to detect signs of Autism in babies a year old or somewhat younger know what to look for. The way I see it, if a baby/toddler were diagnosed with Autism incorrectly, it wouldn't be long before he outgrew whatever signs had been mistaken for Autism and began to show signs that he didn't have Autism after all.
Once children get to a certain age, whether or not the have it isn't usually a big mystery to anyone.
I do think there's a time between late in the first year and, maybe, the end of the third year, when parents may be worried that their child has Autism when, in fact, he doesn't. Most parents in that situation would ask for professional guidance/direction on that, though; and I don't think it's difficult for those professionals to sort out which two-year-olds may show signs of Autism and which don't.
ADHD is the one that I think is being over-diagnosed and mis-diagnosed in children to the point that it's criminal.
Yes there definately has been an increase in the numbers recieving this diagnosis (as oppossed to the incidence rates necessarily). This is partly due to increased awareness as mentioned by brchcar1445 but also because in the past many children with autism and a significant learning disability (approx 70% have an associated learning disability) were just diagnosed as and grouped/placed with services for general learning disabilities as oppossed to autism specific services and on the other end of the spectrum children with (no associated learning disability - generally diagnosed as higher functioning autism or aspergers syndrome nowadays) tended to be more likely to have to just muddle through the mainstream systems without much support.
Another factor (at least where i am) is that as Autism is now so recognised and within the general public conciousness and receives "relatively" good supports and services there can be a tendancy for the diagnosis to be given (in some cases) as it ensures the highest chance of an individual with certain and perhaps similar symptoms in recieving some level of service(which they absolutely need but may have more difficulty sourcing elsewhere or within other sevices).The systems are always evolving but far from perfect.
It is hard to quantify whether increases are due primarily to increases in awareness and how people are diagnosed and classified compared to how things were done in the past or whether there are other factors at play.There are many theories but little consensus.
For instance - whilst many people pinpointed vaccines such as the MMR in recent years this has not been borne out by mainstream research and thought to be more likely to reflect the fact that many childen display their symptoms around the same time as many children recieve the vaccinations. I believe a scandanavian country (i think Denmark but don't hold me to that) did a study following approx 500K children, a cohort of some 100,000 of these children did not recieve the MMR and the study found there was no increase in risk to those who did recieve the vaccinations). Many will swear by diets whilst others dismiss them - it's hard to argue with either - very difficult all round.Understandably people are looking to understand, to find answers and explain how or why this has happened to those they love.
I think a part of it is related to emf-poisoning or over-exposure (wi-fi, cell phones, dirty electricity, electro-smog in general).
Could be lead in vacines along with other heavy metals interacting with poor diet and emfs.
Time will tell,
I suspect like many things in life, as we learn more about autism we become more aware of people who are diagnosed with it, not only because we hear more about it but also because the medical profession is becoming more knowledgeable. Similarly over the past few years there has been a real focus in pro sports (hockey, football, even baseball) about head injuries. In the old days (up until recently) they said a player "had their bell rung" when they took a head shot and it was seen as a badge of honour. Now head injuries are being treated more seriously as we learn more about them and more concusssions appear to be being diagnosed.
The rate of Autism Spectrum Disoders increased among cohorts of American children born in 1992, 1994, and 1996. Children were followed up for diagnoses received through their 8th year, or years 2000, 2002, and 2006 respectively. The last group showed a rate of 1.00 of all ts children, or 1 in every 100 kids. Among parents that are taking action to held children who have ASD, those in Oregon are finding some solutions. read more
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