Thursday, August 20, 2009

Clinic Notes: What's Money Got to Do With It??

As socioeconomic status (SES) increases the likelihood of being diagnosed with a serious psychiatric disorder decreases. I can remember when anxiety disorders were reserved for the upper SES and psychosis for the lower SES. And I can recall when autism was rare and studies said it was more common in families with a high SES. As the number of children diagnosed with autism increased more and more children in lower SES were diagnosed with autism. Now a new study In Wisconsin finds that as a families SES increases so does the prevalence of autism. The researchers point out that the differences in their study may be accounted for by differences between the two groups in terms of access to services. I think that without question access to services is the key here as it is everywhere else. Almost everyday I hear about a child in a low SES area that likely has autism, but has not been diagnosed and is not receiving services. Or if they are school age and receiving services it is the same as the other special ed kids--no ABA, no speech, no OT, no pediatric neurologist. Higher SES families either with insurance or private pay are able to get their children services. I have former students who are providing ABA to families in Nashville who are in the country music industry and high SES. Some of these former students are making six figures working with one child and providing intensive ABA. Now I wonder who is going to loose a their autism diagnosis. Money has a lot to do with it.

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