Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Clinic Notes: Diagnosis and Denial--Denial and Diagnosis the Chicken and Egg of Autism

Everyone will agree that early diagnosis of autism and intense ABA, along with other therapies, is effective. Sometimes it is possible to diagnosis autism as early as 18 month and start intervention. But only half of all autism cases are diagnosed before kindergarten most of these the second and third year when language delays and other symptoms of autism become apparent. Parents can be in denial before and after a diagnosis. Last week a mother brought her three-year old child in to my clinic. She had thought something was wrong since the child was two but dad kept saying the child was just hard headed. Mom took a trip with her friends and left the three year old with dad. When she returned home dad told her to make an appointment because something was wrong. In this case the child was able to get a diagnosis and treatment at an early but often we do not see children for the first time until they are six or seven. The parents knew something was wrong but were in denial. And the parents did not seek services until the school system insisted. And it is not always denial in the parents that prevents a child diagnosed with autism from getting services. More often costs, both in time and money are to blame.