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Friday, April 1, 2011

Autism and Wandering

As a previous post noted, CDC is considering a medical diagnosis for wandering. At The Wall Street Journal, Shirley Wang reports on the ensuing debate:

But the potential recommendation is garnering controversy from some autism advocates. The Autistic Self Advocacy Network and others are petitioning against the CDC’s stance because say that medicalizing the behavior could lead to increased and unnecessary restraint or seclusion of these individuals.

“The intention here is good,” says Ari Ne’eman, president of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network. “You’ve got people here who have wandered off and maybe get injured or even died. But they [the CDC] haven’t really thought through the unintended consequences.”

Having wandering as a diagnostic code will allow researchers to better gather information and characterize the problem and addresses families’ difficulties getting reimbursement for certain services, such as tracking devices, for instance, according to the CDC’s Coleen Boyle, acting director of the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities.

Health Blog Bonus: If you really want to get into the weeds about the debate, check out this transcript from a recent meeting of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Meeting (the wandering discussion begins on p. 11).