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November 12, 2008

Down Under’s Autism Misdiagnosis Dilemma.

Something’s amiss down under.

One news report spoke of over-diagnosis, now another speaks of misdiagnosis.

What is going on?

According to ABC Local Radio,

Experts say diagnosis of the condition in Australia is patchy, because doctors here don’t apply the internationally accepted diagnostic criteria. Some patients are diagnosed as autistic when they don’t have the disorder, others with all the symptoms are turned away.

Patchy is an understatement (no pun intended).

What is to become of those children who are living with autism and were turned away?

What is to become of those children who are not living with autism and are receiving the benefits?

What an awful mess!

Politicians are blaming the doctors, and I’m sure the doctors are feigning ignorance.

It is shameful to think that there could actually be doctors out there who are merely diagnosing children simply because there may be more money in it for them.

Why aren’t Australia’s pediatricians following the internationally accepted classification system?

Brisbane paediatrician Dr Neil Wigg describes the process of diagnosing a child.

If I am suspicious that a child might have autism spectrum disorder, I work with clinical psychologists, speech pathologists, occupational therapists, a range of other people and when we then sit down and we do some quite specific assessments of children in order to be quite confident in the diagnosis.

Now that’s a lengthy and expensive process and that process is not available to all paediatricians and it’s certainly not available to all children in Queensland.

The new Autism Spectrum Disorder Initiative, a $190M package, will prevent access to early intervention treatments and services unless children have been properly diagnosed.

Hopefully, this initiative will make the diagnosis process more accessible and affordable to all pediatricians since money seems to be the obvious issue here.

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