This mother’s story underscores the tremendous need for psychiatrists who are trained to care for individuals with autism. There are vanishingly few of these professionals.
A study published earlier this year suggests most child psychiatrists are exposed to fewer than ten children with autism or intellectual disability during their two years of training. This is particularly concerning given that autism substantially increases the risk of having a psychiatric disorder such as anxiety, depression or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
The lack of psychiatrists with specific training in autism contributes to misdiagnoses and misguided treatments. A 2012 study found that 60 percent of psychiatric diagnoses among people with autism were no longer supported when the assessment took into account behaviors typically seen in autism, such as insistence on sameness or repetitive rocking.