I rarely find myself ranting on this blog, but there are always going to be moments in life where you have to take a stand one way or another. This morning, I found my blood boiling in opposition to an article posted on the New York Times: New Definition of Autism Will Exclude Many, Study Suggests.
I encourage you to take a moment to read the below and share your thoughts.
Here are the key points of the article:
- The definition of what it means to have autism is being reassessed, and the results could significantly narrow the criteria for diagnosis.
- The changes could especially affect people who are high functioning or who have Asperger syndrome, not only emotionally, but also financially in terms of access to funding and state-backed services.
- The analysis comes as a result of combing through a 1993 study of 372 children and adults who were among the highest functioning. With the proposed autism spectrum diagnosis now under review, only 45 percent of these people would qualify (though the authors admit that these numbers might be slightly exaggerated).
- Researchers say the focus would be on diagnosing more “classically autistic” children, who have the severest cases on the spectrum.
Don’t get me wrong. I can understand wanting to analyze past studies in an attempt to understand why the statistics have skyrocketed in recent years. But using past studies as a way to more narrowly define autism for future generations, thereby making the statistics look more favorable while failing to deal with the real issue? That doesn’t sit well with me.
There are many reasons to be upset with this article that are not limited to the fact that my brother is considered high functioning and could very well be negatively affected by the outcome of this proposal. We are talking about excluding people from getting the aid they need and making them question who they really are – that’s a hard battle for any individual to go through.
All for the sake of what Dr. Volkmar, the author of the analysis on this new proposal, claims would “end the autism surge” and “nip” the skyrocketing rates of diagnosis “in the bud.”
Sure, you would nip those numbers in the bud, Dr. Volkmar, and save a bit of cash while doing so. But at the cost of exclusion? I think that is a recipe for disaster.
Here’s an idea: let’s continue to search for proof as to why there ARE skyrocketing rates rather than trying to cover our tracks by making it so that kids don’t get diagnosed in the first place.
Also, I didn’t know there even was such a thing as “classically autistic.” Don’t insult the intelligence of the families and individuals who know what autism looks like. Kids and adults with autism are as diverse and unique as the snowflakes that are falling outside my window right now.
It’s called a spectrum for a reason.
Rant over, but I would love for you to read the article and share your thoughts.