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Monday, November 29, 2010


The Philadelphia Daily News is carrying an article by Charles A. Williams III, an assistant clinical professor and director of the Center for the Prevention of School-Aged Violence at Drexel University. He writes of Aaron, a bright child with an autism diagnosis.

In 2001, during the American Psychological Assn.'s annual convention, the Society of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology held a special panel discussion on ADHD. The experts lamented the fact that there appeared to be a tendency to "overdiagnose" and "overmedicate" children with ADHD.

Now, fast-forward to 2010 as we consider the prevalence of the diagnosis of autism given to so many children.

Is this a case of deja vu? Well, in a recent published interview, developmental neuropsychologist David Evans, of Bucknell University, stated that a parent may seek a label as way to get children the clinical and educational attention they need - and that this could lead to overdiagnosis.

How sad. Such a statement suggests that without a label, many children wouldn't get the quality support, resources and education they deserve.

And even when we do correctly diagnose, with the state of American education being what it is, can we hold out hope that Aaron may one day follow in the footsteps of a Temple Grandin, the renowned animal scientist with autism, featured in the recent award-winning HBO movie?

I don't pretend to have the answers to all these questions, but what I do know is that without them, the fate of many of our nation's most vulnerable children will continue to hang in limbo.