It seems not a day passes that you don’t read something about autism. Data states that one in 100 have some form of autism. Though I will not deny that autism exists, it seems everyone has some form of it, such that anything and everything can be excused because of it. It has become a scapegoat for people’s problems. Minor social dysfunction is attributed to autism. What ever happened to the day when someone can just say they have difficulty with social interaction, rather than be classified as a disorder? Can’t we leave these diagnoses to the most severe and obvious cases?[ad#ad-1]
There is so much debate about the importance of having a diagnoses. It is important when there is clear and defined treatment and there are objective data to follow to assess the effectiveness of treatment. For example, blood pressure can be checked, treated, rechecked. Similarly, diabetes can be measured and treated. Less obvious, but still treatable are psychiatric diagnoses such as severe depression. Milder forms fall into those borderline categories because most normal people will experience highs and lows in their life.
But anxiety and depression are no longer the fad diagnoses. It’s autism. I’ll bet everyone who was formerly diagnosed with ADHD, social anxiety disorder, borderline personality disorder, etc., is now being redefined and re-diagnosed as having some form of autism. Is there really any objective measure – a specific gene defect or some biological marker that can be used to diagnose this? If not, what will the next fad diagnosis be?
Now, I know that there are no biological markers for such things as severe depression and schizophrenia and such, but anyone who has been around such people can clearly say something was wrong. Schizophrenics go into phases when they are not normal (of course, many sane people can easily mimic them, but that’s not the point – normal people don’t do it unless they are trying to be manipulative for some reason). Major depression occurs without an inciting event, such as grief. These people cannot understand why they are so depressed and are helpless to improve their moods. Though there are no objective measures, science has been able to identify certain hormones involved in these mood disorders.
But, what about autism? All we have are a set of behavioural disturbances. In severe cases, they appear somewhat retarded. But mild cases where people are high-functioning, how can they really be classified as autistic? Why isn’t it some form of mild retardation? Why isn’t it just severe social anxiety? Why isn’t it just normal but extreme shyness? And is there really any “treatment” for these cases? No! It’s just ridiculous. I have a big issue with it because if I’m not careful, my children might be considered autistic and I know they are not. I will go out of my way to point out their lack of social interaction and will not hide behind silly scapegoat diagnoses.