Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Autism (It's the New Black!)


Why is it that every child that is not "perfect" ends up with a diagnosis slapped on them? I remember 20 some years ago ADD/ADHD was the "in" diagnosis, now it is Autism. I do not doubt that either disorder exist, I am simply saying that I believe it is over-diagnosed.

My youngest son has ADHD. He is on medication, he takes one pill a day. That is it. One pill. The pill allows him to be still and listen while he is at school. If he goes to school without taking his medication in the morning, trust me, the teacher notices. He is physically all over the place and cannot stop talking long enough to listen because his mind is racing! When he has his medicine in the morning he is a "normal" child. Not medicated he has verbal tics or physical tics that he does not even realize he is doing, medicated he is fine.

He is a very bright child with a wonderful imagination, a wonderful sense of humor, and a big heart. There have been challenges with him growing up, and everything I ever knew about parenting before he was born do not seem to apply to him; I had to relearn how to parent, discipline, and teach him.

A year ago I had someone approach me and tell me that they thought he was autistic. "Classic Asperger's" I was told... I looked into it and saw that it was a very broad diagnosis. A lot of his "issues" can be labeled as Autism, but I believe that they are personality quirks, or basic childhood challenges. Does he really need a diagnosis for something I do not believe he has? If he gets diagnosed what does it mean? It means he has another label attached to him, he may be treated differently and not challenged as he would be without a diagnosis. It means I continue doing everything I am doing now but he has a new label attached to him.

I do not think he has Autism. I think he is himself with personality quirks that make him as he is. He is an individual that challenges ME every day as a parent to learn new things. Too many parents compare their child or children to other children, and when they are not measuring up.. OMG SOMETHING IS WRONG!!!! Slap a diagnosis on him/her, get a medication in their system, and start all of these special programs that will make the kid feel different than everyone else (and believe me the other kids will see it too).

My youngest has a hard time opening up around new people (talking to new people or even acknowledging their existence for that matter); does that make him Autistic? No, it makes him shy. He does not like loud noises. Does that make him Autistic? No, I do not like loud either... a lot of people do not, it is just how he is. He did not speak until he was three. Does that make him Autistic? No, it means his big sister did all of the talking for him; why talk when you and your sister have a "twin speak" thing going on and she can tell everyone what you want (or what she wants and say it is you)?

The point is, I think Autism is over-diagnosed. It is now the "It" diagnosis compared to ADD 20 some years ago. Everyone is different, if we were all the same and developed the same, things would be boring. Some of the diagnosis criteria are friggin ridiculous: "Preoccupation with certain topics. For example, older children and adults may be fascinated by video games, trading cards, or license plates". Really? OMG! THE WORLD IS FUCKED!!!! Heaven forbid should anyone have a hobby they are really into.There are many other things that is typed as Autistic behavior and lump almost everyone within the spectrum. I mean some people have only a few of the criteria and are "high functioning autistic"... why diagnose at all? Can't a person just have personality quirks, be passionate about things, and have dislikes for certain things without being told something is wrong with them? As far as the temper tantrums... yeah we had those too, but I learned to redirect him and teach him how to appropriately display his frustration rather than feed into it and say "He has (fill in the blank) he cannot help it", and absolve myself of all responsibility of raising him to be a person able to function in any situation. 

I am not saying that all children diagnosed do not have it, I am saying that I think that some that are diagnosed are spoiled, ignored, or have different quirks in their personality (separate from your own) that make them individuals! That child is not throwing a fit in the store because they are autistic, they are throwing a fit because they are spoiled and rarely hear the word "NO". That child that is destructive (to themselves or other things) is not autistic, their parent is not paying attention to their needs and teaching them appropriate vs. inappropriate behavior (use your words!). Believe me, it is NOT easy, my son is a challenge to me almost daily, but it taught me that all children are not the same... and sometimes new things are thrown into the mix to let me know that I cannot control everything, I need to learn to adjust without throwing a diagnosis or medication at it... other people should do the same. LIFE IS NOT EASY, and children NEVER are)!!

OK, I may anger some people with this post... but you know what? I don't care.. this is my opinion and my blog damnit! 

1 comment: said...

I think you are so right! People just want an answer to their problems so doctor's say "Autism!" It's not that I don't believe in it, and I'm sure there are lots of kids who truly have Autism, but I agree with you on over-diagnosis.
Depression is another one.
Did you know that magnesium deficieny is a huge factor in depression? Most people don't. they go on Anti-Depressants when they probably just need a magnesium supplement!
Makes me so mad!