Sunday, November 04, 2007

Autism Epidemic May Be All in the Label

ATLANTA (AP) — A few decades ago, people probably would have said kids like Ryan Massey and Eddie Scheuplein were just odd. Or difficult.

Both boys are bright. But Ryan, 11, is hyper and prone to angry outbursts, sometimes trying to strangle another kid in his class who annoys him. Eddie, 7, has a strange habit of sticking his shirt in his mouth and sucking on it.

Both were diagnosed with a form of autism. And it's partly because of children like them that autism appears to be skyrocketing: In the latest estimate, as many as one in 150 children have some form of this disorder. Groups advocating more research money call autism "the fastest-growing developmental disability in the United States."

Indeed, doctors are concerned there are even more cases out there, unrecognized: The American Academy of Pediatrics last week stressed the importance of screening every kid — twice — for autism by age 2.

But many experts believe these unsociable behaviors were just about as common 30 or 40 years ago. The recent explosion of cases appears to be mostly caused by a surge in special education services for autistic children, and by a corresponding shift in what doctors call autism...

...In the 1990s, the autism umbrella expanded, and autism is now shorthand for a group of milder, related conditions, known as "autism spectrum disorders." ...

This from the Associated Press.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There are a number of boys in my extended family that have autism spectrum disorders including Ausbergers and diagnosed autism.

My children were never tested or diagnosed but have many symptoms of these types of disorders--delayed speech, rage, learning disabilities.

My nephew was diagnosed and receives treatment, which seems to be helping.

I believe testing and diagnosis may have helped my children, but it's too late now.

I support the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation to test every child and increase available treatment options.