February 7, 2012

AND WITH THE ADVENT OF TWO INCOME COUPLES...:

Asperger's, Overdiagnosed, Ill Defined, May Not Be a Syndrome Much Longer: Psychiatrists working on the latest edition of their profession's diagnostic manual are thought to be tightening the definition of autism and dispensing with Asperger's completely. (Casey Schwartz, 2/07/12, Daily Beast)

It wasn't until the 1980s, when British psychiatrist Lorna Wing translated Asperger's original paper into English, that the idea of this syndrome took hold in the United States.

Wing's phrase for describing the essence of the syndrome has become famous: Asperger's kids, she wrote, are "active but odd." [...]

Many doctors believe Asperger's is significantly overdiagnosed--so much so that it might singlehandedly account for why there has been such a dramatic uptick in the total number of autism-spectrum diagnoses handed out each year.

Bryna Siegel, a child psychiatrist at the University of California, San Francisco, was a member of the DSM IV working group. She says she "undiagnoses" Asperger's far more frequently than she diagnoses it. For every 10 children who come to see her with a diagnosis of Asperger's, she "undiagnoses" nine.

Siegel believes that one reason why Asperger's has become so widely applied is the appealing meaninglessness of its name. 

"I think part of the proliferation of the Asperger's diagnosis is that if you say that a kid has oppositional defiant disorder, and especially if you say that about a normally intelligent upper-middle-class kid, parents don't like to use the word 'oppositional' and they don't like to use the word 'defiant' and they don't like to use the word 'disorder.' And 'Asperger's' just sounds so much more neutral. It doesn't have any connotations ... It's a name, it's not a descriptive term." [...]

The confusion extends outside of patient-doctor conversations. At the height of the Silicon Valley tech bubble, Wired magazine published a questionnaire developed by autism expert Simon Baron-Cohen, a self-report test for Asperger's syndrome.

Siegel, whose office is in San Francisco, recalls that the questionnaire caused such a stir among the techie set that she was flooded with responses.


...what's not to like about a justification to medicate boys who are active and/or socially awkward?  When we posted the Wired test here (I think it was that one), nearly every male was "diagnosed" as being on the autism sepctrum.
Posted by orrinj at February 7, 2012 6:37 AM
  
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