Autoimmune Thyroid Disease

An Unfortunate and Lengthy Adventure in Misdiagnosis

Diagnosis creep

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This is one for the ‘autism epidemic’ crowd.

I watched Rain Man last week for the first time in years.

This is an extract from the Rain Man script:

Doctor: (To Charlie) In his case, he’s pretty well off. He’s very high-functioning. Most autistics can’t speak or communicate. (To Raymond) Do you know what ‘autistic’ is?
Raymond: Yeah.
Doctor: You know that word? Are you autistic?
Raymond: I don’t think so. (Pause) No. Definitely not.

If you watch Rain Man today you probably regard Raymond as suffering from ‘severe’ autism. Rain Man was released in 1988. When Rain Man was released, Raymond was regarded as unusually high functioning because he could talk.

These days anyone who has more IQ points than facebook friends is regarded as autistic. Well, not quite. But you get my point.

This is a phenomenon sometimes referred to as ‘diagnosis creep’. It happens a lot in medicine. Diagnosis criteria are revised and expanded all the time, funnelling in larger and larger segments of the population. Acceptable cholesterol levels and blood glucose levels have been revised downwards repeatedly during the last thirty years or so. Not so long ago anyone with a diagnosis of ‘manic depression’ was locked up in an asylum. Nowadays it’s almost trendy to be bipolar. ADHD and dyslexia have followed a similar pattern. When I was a child only the most severe cases were diagnosed – anyone else was just a poor learner.


Written by alienrobotgirl

22 April, 2008 at 3:19 pm

Posted in Autism

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