Arlene Harris reports on the possible misdiagnosis of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD)

IT IS estimated globally that every year up to six children out of every 1,000 will be diagnosed as having autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Undoubtedly these figures seem to be on the rise but expert Professor Tony Attwood says some children are possibly being misdiagnosed.

Speaking ahead of a conference for special educational needs in Dublin on Tuesday 19 and Wednesday 20 of April, the clinical psychologist says while there are more recorded cases of ASD than ever before, some of these may not actually warrant this diagnosis.

“Without a doubt ASD and Asperger’s syndrome is on the rise and this in some part is down to the fact that parents are having children in their 30s as opposed to in their 20s when there would be a lower risk of babies being born with the condition,” he says. “Early detection has also contributed to the rise in numbers but there is no getting away from the fact that there are also plenty of false positives where a child is diagnosed without 100% certainty.

“Nowadays the definition of ‘normal’ has become much narrower and some children are labelled with multiple diagnoses to the point that it’s almost like collecting stamps.”

The Australia-based expert who has spent 40 years studying ASD also says spending too much time watching TV or looking at a screen is not beneficial and children should be encouraged to spend more time…

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  1. Thank you for covering this story! My psychology professor talked about the misdiagnosis of autism. Basically they are being misdiagnosed because primary care docs are diagnosing them when really psychologists and neurologists should be doing it. The rate of autism is lower than it appears to be.


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