Posted by: debstake | September 30, 2008

The Art of Diagnosing Autism – Are the Numbers Accurate?


The official (bible of, if you prefer) book used for diagnosing autism and other mental issues is: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM IV. The IV is the fourth and most recent update for this book. It went into effect in 2002. The criteria for autism spectrum disorder can be found HERE.

Intially I copy and pasted into google’s search bar the title of this blog. I modified it to “Are the Autism Numbers Accurate?” The responses led me to Kristina Chew. If the name sounds familar to you think neuro-diversity, think the Autism Vox blog. She has many excellent links in this blog entry and one that intrigued me greatly was the CDC’s ADDM (Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network). This is a network of ten states: Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Wisconsin. Now of these ten states only 3 (Maryland, North Carolina and  Pennsylvania) has “updated accurate” information. My first red flag. Another red flag is the wording about these centers of excellence. This is how it reads: “The Children’s Health Act of 2000 directed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to establish regional centers of excellence for autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) and other developmental disabilities.” I am wondering if these centers for excellence are the criteria for the national average of 1 in 150 then how can this be an accurate average when other developmental disabilities are tracked within the autism average?

Kristina’s blog posting on this subject can be found HERE. Her piece was supporting the position that the current diagnosis rate of 1 in 150 is inaccurate. But she is supporting a position the the numbers are higher than the 1 in 150.

I take the opposite position while using the same material. To begin with according to Kristina schools have the capacity of diagnosing autism. Again another red flag. Historically, schools are not the best to diagnosis anything more than head colds and head lice. Evidence of my opinion can be found HERE. Also Kristinia makes note of there being discrepancies from one school district to another. Which also supports my position of over diagnosis. Also one must keep in mind that for every child receiving special education services within the district, the district gets substanially more money for that child’s services. A financial incentive perhaps to pad the numbers? Makes me wonder I can tell you.

As to the “professional” diagnosis via a neurological peditrician, psychologist and the like, I remember what Michael Savage said as a means to justify his statement of “99% of autistic kids are brats”. What was said to him by Dr. Peter Breggin was: “that though there are real cases of autism, those involved in the broadening of its diagnosis are in the pay of pharmaceutical companies. Breggin says Savage is correct that autism is over diagnosed.” Based on this information I did my own informal unscientific survey of questioning those professionals who diagnosis and teach. The results are the same. The diagnosis of “true” autism is not on the rise. The broadening of the criteria is artificially inflating the numbers.

The reasons for these actions are obvious if you know how the drug cartels operate and why they would be interested in getting more children with autism in their product claws. It is also obvious if you know what the CDC is trying to get out of over inflating the numbers. My reasoning can be found on a previous blog I wrote. That entry can be found HERE.

 JR was diagnosed in 2000 and all though he fits the technical criteria for autism as much now as he did then, he does not fit the mold of autism. Let me explain, JR has always been, since birth a very loving and social human being, he has always enjoyed being around people (albeit, adults mostly ), he has always loved being cuddled and loved on. Now after 8 years of living “on spectrum” with six of those eight years being spent in the educational, behavioral and communicational care of the VISTA school there are many areas of the DSM where JR does not fit the mold anymore of autism. The primary category that keeps JR with an autism diagnosis is lack of speech. However, JR communicates excellently with his dynavox. The DSM criteria is way too narrow focusing excluisvely on “speech” as the only form of communication. One can communicate without ever uttering a word.

Another area of the autism diagnosis that has always been a pet peeve to me is the cognitive level and receptive (understanding what is being said) language issues. Early in JR’s days after his diagnosis I would often see on his IEP’s that he was cogninitively and receptive language delayed. In the beginning not knowing exactly what these terms meant I would let the team slide continuing to allow them to use these terms where my son was concerned. After a while and through self education I came to learn that in JR’s case these issues simply did not exist with him. When a child can figure out a way to get something that he understands he is not allowed to have by distracting you to go elsewhere and then do what I termed an end run around you to get what he intitally wanted to begin with; tells me cognitively he is not only on age mark but is probably very much beyond that level. The same for the receptive delays. That boy understands everything you say to him, if he did’t he wouldn’t be able to respond appropriately.

So is autism being artifically inflated? Well, Kristina Chew says no and the diagnosis rate currently being spewed by the CDC is under the actual average. I say it’s over inflated. Time will tell which of us is right. However, based on the past practices of the drug cartels and the CDC, I would be willing to hedge my bet that I am right.

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