Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Drive-Thru Diagnosis?

I don't generally pontificate on news stories. But when a news story such as the piece on autism in Time Healthland airs, I cannot contain my words.

Did you read it? Read it.

All done? Ok.

So, we can diagnose a kid as autistic in 5 minutes? We can accurately label a child as autistic in just 5 minutes? With just one home video? Without having met the patient on good days and bad? We can count on the answers of a parent on a questionnaire as foolproof? I can tell you this: When filling out questionnaires about my child, I often found myself flinging my heart from one side of the fence to the other. I would answer honestly, but would then wonder if my honesty was, well, honest. Was the answer to question #14 correct or was it influenced by the fact that I desperately don't WANT this diagnosis to be true? Was the answer to question #23 correct or was it influenced by the fact that I desperately DO want this diagnosis to be true? To have a reason for all of these... issues?

Do you see the issue?

Don't get me wrong; Parent evaluations are vastly important. Nobody knows their child better than the parents do. But there is more to a psychological evaluation than "7 online questions and a short home video."

These guidelines would surely work for determining if a child should be brought in for further evaluations. But I fear that the parents who wish for their child to have a reason for their issues will have far too easy a method of screwing with the system. I fear that if these methods are allowed to pass as a definitive diagnosis, many children who are not autistic will be labeled as such. This would also mean that a multitude of children who ARE legitimately autistic and requiring intervention services will not be able to receive such help due to the increase in referrals.

I am not a medical professional but I am a mom of a kid who falls somewhere on the spectrum. I am a mom of a kid who could attach labels to his name, if he wanted to do so. I am a mom who is concerned that this type of drive-thru diagnosis could be a sign of what is to come for our medical futures and I am afraid.
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