Healthy Living: Autism diagnosis
The criteria that must be met to fall into the autism spectrum is about to change. Casey Bortnick has the story, and why some say the changes are designed to make things more clear.
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For years, Tracey Diamond fought to get her son T.J. diagnosed with autism.
"I went one place and the doctor said to me 'you don't want him to have autism.' I said 'I don't have a choice. If he has autism, I need the diagnosis. We need to get services,'" said Tracey Diamond, mother.
At just 24 months old, T.J. stopped talking.
"He would point to a star and say ‘star.’ He would point to a light and say ‘light.’ And then everything stopped," said Diamond.
It took another three years for T.J. to get an official diagnosis and the state funded services for education, transportation, health, and other social services that come with it.
"It's going to be even harder now to fight for the ones who are borderline," said Diamond.
Harder because the criteria that must be met to fall into the autism spectrum is about to change....
"One of the big changes is that those smaller categories will disappear," said Laura Silverman, a clinical psychologist.
One in 110 children has an autism spectrum disorder. Some may be diagnosed with more severe forms of autism, while others have Asperger's syndrome or "pervasive developmental disorder," a diagnosis that can change over time.
Laura Silverman is a clinical psychologist at Golisano Children's Hospital. She says the changes are designed to make things more clear.
"Rather than changing the name of what it is, there will be more of a focus on symptom severity... So how do they look over time? And I think that will be easier for parents to understand and for professionals to work with," said Silverman.
Silverman says the goal was not to increase or decrease the amount of people on the autism spectrum.
"There's always a possibility that you'll lose programs or you'll gain programs but I think that has more to do with the economic or political climate than with the change in diagnosis," said Silverman.
Some researchers say as many as 65 percent of children and adults with high-functioning forms of autism would be taken off the spectrum.
"When my son was born it was one in 1,000. Today it's one in 90," said Diamond.
T.J. will turn 15 years old in June. Tracey fears her son and others like him could lose the support they so desperately need.
"Too many kids are going to fall through the cracks... This is not going away," said Diamond.