Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Everything does not have to be a fight

I was reading comments on this article about Autism and people were getting into a tizzy regarding comments about the misdiagnosis of children with FASD as autistic.   

I really don't understand why.  Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) are similar in several symptoms and may be mistaken for one another.  They are not, however, the same.  In general, it is more socially acceptable to diagnose ASD than FASD because there is no definitive known cause for ASD and therefore doctors can avoid the blame / shame problem associated with FASD.  The problem with this is that while some treatment protocols / therapies for ASD are helpful to children with FASD, many are not.  So misdiagnosing leads to less than optimal treatment of children who have FASD and inclusion of FASD children in studies of treatments to help ASD cloud the results.  We need to remove the stigma from FASD so that children with each disorder may be properly diagnosed and treated in ways that maximize their potential.  

The comment that some children diagnosed with ASD really have FASD (or perhaps have BOTH) is not aimed at dismissing the seriousness of ASD in our country today.  Nor does it deny the importance of ASD research and treatment. 

The same problems happens with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), ODD (oppositional defiant disorder), SPD (sensory processing disorder) and a whole host of others.  Children with FASD may exhibit symptoms that look like any one of these.  Again - that does not dismiss those disorders nor minimize their prevelance.  But misdiagnosing children with any of these leads to less than optimal help for the children and contaminates study results on the effectiveness for treatments for the disorder while preventing an opportunity for study of effective treatment for FASD.

Unless I am missing something the only controversy here is people getting offended that you might be saying their child's problems were caused by their behavior.  Um - doesn't that kind of prove my point?  Until we remove the blame and stigma from an FASD diagnosis people are going to try and avoid that "label" and slap on a more socially acceptable, but incorrect, one.

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