A recent study conducted by researchers at the Penn State University suggests that the number of autistic children has increased so much during the past decade as a result of the blurry diagnosis procedures that doctors use. In awe of this finding, medical experts blame reclassification for increased autism.
Girirajan, the assistant professor at Penn State University, who was also in charge of the recent experiment, explained that researchers wanted to determine how autism evolved among children in the past eleven years. For the current research, they have analyzed the data collected between 2000 and 2010.
Results have shown that doctors have increasingly used autism as a diagnosis to account for many of the children’s health affections. This explains why the percentage of autistic children has more than tripled in this time interval.
Girirajan has used statistic reports to prove his recent finding. He has stated that in 2000 only 93,624 have been labeled as autistic, whereas in 2010 their number grew to 419,647. A closer look at the medical records of these patients has further revealed that children could have been diagnosed with other mental affections except autism, such as, mental retardation and inability to communicate.
However, the general confusion and blurriness specific to autistic symptoms have led medical experts to diagnose children with autism because this term is more comprehensive. Thus, we may conclude that autism did not, in fact increase in the past decade; it is only a matter of semantics, scientists at Penn State have concluded.
There could be other factors contributing to this distortion of reality facts, Girirajan has further added. While some states might have overused the diagnosis ‘autism’, others might have not properly diagnosed children because they have very little knowledge in relation to this disease. It is also the case of Alabama where the media rarely enters small communities and where the needs of these families remain unknown to the rest of the population.
Annette Estes, the director of the Autism Center from the University of Washington has, nevertheless, stated that past researches have already tried to link increased autism rates with imprecise diagnoses, but no concrete conclusion has been reached in this sense. Estes has further expressed her believe that thorough data analyses have to be performed in order for this theory to be proven.
Girirajan has agreed with her that the current research must be complemented by additional studies. He, nonetheless, believes that improper diagnoses could have occurred as a result of the unusually big variation between autistic symptoms.
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