Sunday, June 25, 2006

Clinic Notes: What does a Diagnosis of Autism Mean?

The first thing parents who bring their children to my clinic want to know is does my child have autism. If the child is older and already diagnosed with autism parents will often ask if their child still has autism. A recent study found that most children diagnosed with autism when they were two also were still diagnosed with autism at age nine. On the other hand, children diagnosed with pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) when they were young had their diagnosis changed to autism when they were older. (Autism Diagnosis Remains Through Early Childhood So much for recovery? SOURCE: Archives of General Psychiatry, June 2006.)
I see some health care professionals diagnose a child with PDD simply because they do not to alarm parents by using the "a" word. I don't worry too much about diagnosis because with ABA you simply treat the problem behaviors, which vary from child to child with a diagnosis of autism or PDD. I also tell parents who have children with a high functioning autism or PDD diagnosis that they are probably better off not telling the school system the child's diagnosis. Teachers are will always notice more behavior problems in a child with a diagnosis.

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