Autism wasn’t as common a few years agoNicole Fornabaio/Rd.com, enterlinedesign/shutterstock
It’s true that autism is more commonly diagnosed than it was just a decade or so ago. According to autismspeaks.org, autism was diagnosed in about 1 in 166 people a decade ago, and is now diagnosed in 1 in 68. However, it’s far from a made-up disorder. Dr. Oksana Hagerty sheds some light on this topic, as an educational and developmental psychologist who also serves as a learning specialist at Beacon College in Leesburg, Florida. “More research certainly led to a better understanding of the condition. But social relativity also plays an important role as better economic conditions elevated the perception of the status of neurodevelopmental disorders such as ASD and specific learning disorders (SLD).” Dr. Hagerty explains that, in other economically disadvantaged countries, these types of disorders are considered “‘luxury’ level disabilities” because they aren’t equipped with the resources necessary for diagnoses.
Here’s what to say instead: I’ve heard autism is on the rise. I’d love to help you bring awareness to the disorder so more children and adults can get the help they need.
That’s why I don’t get my child vaccinatedNicole Fornabaio/Rd.com, enterlinedesign/shutterstock
The possible link between autism and the vaccinations children get before the age of 5 began because of a fraudulent research paper by Andrew Wakefield. Since then, many parents have elected not to vaccinate their children, for fear of vaccinations raising the risk of their children developing autism, and some are quick to pass judgment on those who do, especially if their child has been diagnosed on the spectrum. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention counters that there have been legitimate studies conducted that conclude no link between vaccines and the development of autism. The studies have looked at everything from the antigens (the compounds that sort of poke the immune system to get a response) to the ingredients in vaccines, and the results have been the same. Here are other common myths related to vaccines.
Here’s what to say instead: I may have different beliefs about vaccines, but I know every parent has a responsibility to do what he or she feels is best for the child.
Are you sure?Nicole Fornabaio/Rd.com, enterlinedesign/shutterstock
The diagnostic criteria for evaluating individuals for autism, according to the DSM-5 (which is like a handbook for doctors), is extremely comprehensive. It involves paperwork from parents, teachers, and specialists, thorough observations of the individual, play-based assessments, and more. Still, autism comes under fire often as a disorder that is too easily diagnosed, leaving some to question the accuracy of the diagnostic process, sometimes even accusing parents of pushing for a diagnosis. Amy Hess, program director at the Center for Autism Transition and Services (CAST) at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and an autism parent, admits that the evaluation process for her son was extremely difficult for her. “To see our son fail aspects of the ADOS (Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule) as well as other tests was heartbreaking. We challenged the results, reviewed the data and had difficulty accepting the diagnosis, mainly because we did not want the diagnosis,” she says. In other words, it’s not something most parents take lightly, and it’s certainly not something they wish for their children.
Here’s what to say instead: Can you explain more about the diagnostic process? I’m interested in knowing more.