Study Finds That Rise in Autism May Be Due to Clinicians Diagnosing Mild Symptoms
The 20-fold increase in the number of children diagnosed with autism in the past 30 years may be due to clinicians diagnosing less severe autism in children. A study of more than 1,200 children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders – which encompasses a range of behavioral symptoms – in Western Australia found no evidence of more children being born with autism than in the past. Professor Andrew Whitehouse, the head of autism research at Perth’s Telethon Kids, said there had been a clinical shift towards diagnosing autism in children with less severe behavioral symptoms. “Other research has shown these children would previously have either received a diagnosis of another condition such as language impairment, or not received any diagnosis at all,” he said. The number of children diagnosed with autism has increased 20 times since the 1970s, with its prevalence now believed to be at least 1 percent. Whitehouse said the understanding of autism had changed, with more types of behavior now meeting the criteria for diagnosis. Autism was previously thought to be only a severe disorder which included intellectual disability. But Whitehouse said it was wrong to suggest that children with mild symptoms did not have autism. The findings, published on Monday in the journal Autism Research, relied on diagnostic information of 1,252 children diagnosed between 2000 and 2006 – the years that saw the largest increase in autism around the world.
Source/more: Sydney Morning Herald
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