How Is Autism Spectrum Disorder Overdiagnosed?

Since the definition of autism has broadened, it may result in an overdiagnosis of the autism spectrum disorder. Because of the fact that the new criteria recognize the symptoms at an earlier age. Even though it results in early diagnosis which leads to early treatment, it may result in overdiagnosis. As we understand, autism spectrum disorder is not what it used to be. 

Before there was a huge difference between people who got autism spectrum diagnosed and people who do not have. Day by day, since the definition has broadened, this difference has decreased drastically. Because of the fact that more behaviors have accepted as autism symptoms, more behaviors are been associated with autism. 

In today’s world, since there are more categories in the autism umbrella, the prevalence rate of autism is 15 times higher than what it is used to be. It is highly possible to label most of the neurological and psychological disorders under the autism spectrum disorder umbrella. As a perfect example, there was a boy who showed autism symptoms today and got diagnosed with autism. However, in 2010 he had exactly the same behaviors but did not get diagnosed. Since the DSM criteria have changed, now he got diagnosed with autism according to DSM-5 which is published in 2013. It indicates that autism has been overdiagnosed. 

Even though broad definition leads to overdiagnosis, it leads to early detection, more awareness, and proper treatment. People become more aware of autism symptoms, from the mildest ones to the most prominent ones. This definition change makes it more difficult and challenging to understand how the brain of individuals with autism spectrum disorder works. 

Has Broadened Definition Led to Overdiagnosis or Better Diagnosis?

There are controversies among autism-related professionals and experts about this issue. It is undeniable that due to this broadening, there are more people diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. 

According to some experts, autism is not being overdiagnosed. This definition leads people to become more aware of early signs, early intervention, and early diagnosis. The main symptoms of autism spectrum disorder are the same since autism is recognized as a disorder. By the time, these main symptoms become more aware and more recognized do not mean that autism is overdiagnosed. 

The majority of these professionals claim that it is not overdiagnosis. On the contrary, it is a better diagnosis. They think that more awareness leads to appropriate diagnosis in early ages and getting proper care, support, and treatment. They become more successful to have better lives. 

On the other hand, there are studies about the prevalence rate of autism, how changed during years. There is a drastic change between 1966 and 2020. Lifetime prevalence is higher than what it is used to be. Autism was defined as a childhood disorder. Nevertheless, in today’s world, it is a lifetime disorder. It can be recognized at any point in the life of an individual. 

Since the latest version of DSM has been published, there is no separate diagnosis for many disorders. Now, they are under the umbrella of autism spectrum disorder. Because of the fact that all have the main and same symptoms. Thus, lots of people may be overdiagnosed. There are certain times and certain studies needed in this issue. 

Symptoms Look Like Autism Spectrum Disorder But Are Not

It is the most known mistake that autism is diagnoses only in early childhood. Autism spectrum disorder can be diagnosed during adulthood as well. Since autism is a spectrum disorder, each person on this spectrum shows the symptoms differently. While some of them have mild ones, some of them have severe ones. Even more, some of them may not be easily noticeable. On the other hand, some of them have highly severe symptoms that impact on their lives. 

As we all know, some symptoms are highly similar to symptoms of other disorders. As a result of these similarities, some symptoms are mistaken by professionals. It can be problematic during years because of the fact that each treatment is different than each other and each person is different than each other. The diagnosis and treatment they get are highly important. 

These symptoms that are mistaken for autism spectrum disorder could be a delay in speech, problems of hearing, developmental delays, narrowed and specific interests, high level of intelligence, sensory processing issues, psychological disorders, genetic disorders, and many more. 

Developmental delays: These are behaviors that a child needs to be able to do in his/her age. If they do not fit in this schedule, it means that they have developmental delays. These problems can be observed in the language, speaking, hearing, motor issues, sociability, and thinking. Even though children on the autism spectrum have developmental delays, it does not mean that everyone on the spectrum has it or children not on the autism spectrum should not have any developmental delays. 

Narrowed interests: It is one of the main symptoms of autism that have a specific and certain interest in some activities. They may be very obsessed with these interests. On the other hand, everyone has narrow interest does not mean that they are on the autism spectrum. If they are on the spectrum, there are other symptoms needed to diagnose with autism. 

High intelligence: It is a well-known wrong that everyone on the spectrum has a high level of intelligence. Or, every child who starts to read very early or show signs of high intelligence does not mean that they are on the autism spectrum. If they are on the spectrum, there are other symptoms needed to diagnose with autism. Hyperlexia is something and autism is something else. They do not need to be together in all cases. 

Sensory processing issues: Children with autism spectrum disorder are very sensitive to stimulus around themselves. They do not like to be exposed to a high level of lighting, sound, and touching. Nevertheless, normally developed children may not like either. Sensory processing issues themselves are not enough to get diagnosed with autism. If they are on the spectrum, there are other symptoms needed to diagnose with autism.

Psychological disorders: Autism occurs with many disorders or it overlaps with many disorders. It causes problems in diagnosis and treatment. These disorders could be an avoidant personality disorder, speech and communication problems, social communication disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, reactive attachment disorder, and even though it is very rare we can say schizophrenia. 

Genetic disorders: Some individuals with different disorders, such as down syndrome, can be diagnosed with autism which is not true. According to studies, there is a high percentage of children who got diagnosed wrong. Especially individuals with deletion syndrome mostly get diagnosed wrong. Because of the fact that their symptoms are very similar to each other. 

Questions to Ask Child’s Doctor 

The development of behaviors of a child should be observed and checked by the doctor in order to diagnose autism spectrum disorder. The professional needs to ask many questions to the caregiver. The health story of the child should be learned. 

The evaluation is suggested if the doctor needs and thinks that the child may have autism spectrum disorder. In this case, other autism-related professionals take part to diagnose. These professionals are neurologists, psychologists, psychiatrists, and other related professionals. There are many tests in order to understand whether the child has autism or not. 

After all these screenings, if you still think that your child may have been misdiagnosed, you need to ask even more questions to your doctor. There are some specific questions to help you in this case. You can ask your doctor whether you have checked to hear, there are other tests that you need to consider, whether it is possible to see the team, whether it is possible to go with the treatment even if you are not sure what your child has. 

These questions are important if you have doubts because of the fact that you ask the main symptoms of autism in this way. Hearing causes speech problems that can be easily mistaken for autism. Other tests can be needed in order to understand whether there is another genetic problem or not. You should ask for referrals because only one doctor is not enough to get diagnosed. There should be a team of professionals to say that yes your child has autism. More information is always a better option. Even though your child got misdiagnosed, any kind of treatment and therapy will be helpful to your child in case of any problem. 

Valid Observation Is Very Important in Diagnosing Autism

Autism refers to the inability of a child or individual to develop normally in a number of important developmental areas, such as their peers, starting from infancy or early childhood. We see that children diagnosed with autism have difficulty in both basic skills such as eye contact and joint attention, and in social relationships such as human relations.

Professionals tell children with autism that their illness is ‘autism spectrum disorder’. The reason for this is that all children with autism are different from each other because it is not possible to talk about the standard or all the same situations in autism.

Because the word autism and its diagnosis can affect many parents emotionally, doctors say the way this is shared with the family is also important. Instead, they prefer to transfer the situation to families because they have some developmental difficulties and use the flower sample. They say that we have flowers, but they cannot develop properly. If our flower cannot develop, we need to take care of its water and soil more. This flower is not like other flowers, but if it continues to be neglected, they use expressions like it has difficulty growing.

It is a well-known fact that the cause of autism is mostly genetic. When it is explained genetically, most families can be thought of as “why did our child have autism because our parents did not have autism”. This statement can be misunderstood in society. Autism is related to genes, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that parents will have autism. The situation starts in the womb. Exposure to certain drugs or substances, viruses, infection or radiation during pregnancy, advanced parental age, or some other environmental factors such as this may be effective in the emergence of the disease.

The only and final way to diagnose autism is an expert examination, opinion, and observation. In other words, according to the child’s age, social skills such as language skills, human relations, and the level of your child in all these areas are diagnosed both by clinical examination and by observing the video recordings of the children at home, in the nursery, depending on the location. In these observations, what the child can and cannot do according to his age range, what skills he has, and how many developmental tests are performed. The results are definitely evaluated by a child psychiatrist and the situation is determined.

Mothers and fathers are usually warned about the diagnosis of autism. One of the most important things families need to do is to be informed about the development of their children, to follow them closely, and to be aware of the areas where the child is challenged. They should take their children to medical check-ups regularly. This, of course, is something that can really happen with curiosity, interest, and education. Parents should rely on parenting intuitions and instincts, and consult physicians who are experts in their field of concerns about their children, regardless of the environment.

Professionals say that unlike the news in the media, there is no direct relationship between autism and nutrition, but some digestive system disorders are common in children diagnosed with autism. This is not only a condition that can be observed in other children with autism. Healthy eating is important not only for children diagnosed with autism but for people of all ages. Families diagnosed with autism are open to being deceived and exploited by malicious people in the market due to panic and shock. For this reason, before deciding on the methods recommended to them, they should definitely get support from specialist physicians.

Doctors note that more studies should be conducted on autism awareness. Autism awareness is actually a situation that should be not only in the sense of awareness of families but also in public institutions, universities, and health institutions. In this sense, it is undoubtedly very important to carry out studies to increase the awareness of the society. It is very important to raise awareness of public institutions, institutions, nurseries, kindergartens, physicians, and healthcare professionals. In this sense, apart from the parents’ knowledge, the awareness of different occupational groups, from physicians to educators, who have interactions with children, is also beneficial.

When the reasons for the increase in autism in recent years are mentioned, there is an opinion that some environmental conditions increase the prevalence of autism today. In fact, it can be said that autism is largely caused by genetic factors, but when certain environmental risk factors are added to this genetic predisposition, the risk of autism increases. Again, the risk of autism may be increased in certain chromosomal diseases or defined genetic syndromes or some neurological syndromes. Apart from this, being a parent at an advanced age is one of the important risk factors for autism in children. The preference of parents to be parents after their 30s increases the incidence of autism in children to be born.

The increased awareness of autism in recent years is one of the reasons that increase the incidence of autism. At this point, there is an increase in society and people’s awareness of autism rather than a real increase. This disease was undoubtedly present in the past, but it was not named. Nowadays, increasing awareness is a factor that increases the incidence of the disorder. 

A mother is telling. Her son was 6 months old, she realized there was a difference. She breastfed. She looked at her friends’ babies, they look into their mother’s eyes, her son is not. She would say ‘Something is missing’, she was skeptical, but she wasn’t quite sure.

When the child is over 1 year old, his walking is a little late. He walked when he was 15 months old but there were words like ‘grandfather, father’, they were completely gone. Finally, in the middle of the room, he handed a teaspoon and turned it for 4 hours. So the mother sat and watched. He was turning and she was crying.

The child who was diagnosed when he was 1.5 years old. When diagnosed much earlier than many individuals with autism, she said, “I am a little too detailed person” and quit smoking 1 year before her pregnancy and removed the drink she drank at the ‘social drinker level’ from her wholesale life, was completely natural, exercised and avoided stress and the attention of her mother. His pursuit of the event also has a great effect.

Educational Toys for Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder

Boon Building Bath Pipes Toy, Set of 5

These pipes are both fun and educational toys for every child, especially children with autism. Because they get the attention of them. These pipes can be played individually or your child can create a pattern the way he/she wants. These pipes can be placed on the wall easily. There are different shapes and functions available. They are very easy to clean, easy to store, and easy to play. They can be easily washed with warm water and soap. They are amazing toys for fine movement development. They work how they are supposed to work. Overall, they are good products to invest in.

Melissa & Doug Shape Sorting Cube

They are very simple and colorful but educational toys. Even though all children with and without autism can benefit from it, especially children on the autism spectrum can get benefit more. These cubes enhance their creativity and attention thanks to its vibrant colors. They are easy to grip, easy to play, easy to store, and easy to clean. Children can learn shapes and colors easily with it. They can spend most of the time with cubes without getting bored. They promote color recognition and shape recognition of children with an autism spectrum disorder. They are helpful in case of problem-solving skills. These cubes work how they are supposed to work. Overall, you will be satisfied with your purchase.

Munchkin Float and Play Bubbles Bath Toy

They are great toys in order to get the attention of children easily. There are two different characters include in those toys. These toys can spin and rattle easily. Each bubble has different roles. They help to stimulate different skills and developments. They are very helpful in the sense of sight, touch, and hearing. There is a textured ring on the top of the bubble which moves freely. They are of great prices for 4 different bubbles. Overall, they are a good investment to get your child’s attention and make them relax.

Tub Cubby Bath Toy Organizer + Baby Rubber Ducky – 14″x20 Mold Resistant Mesh Net Basket – 3 Soap Shampoo Dividers – Keeps Kids Bathtub Games Dry – Suction & Sticker Hooks Shower Caddy Storage Bin Set

These are amazing organizers especially for children on the autism spectrum who are very strict about organizing something. These organizers will help your children to keep their toys organized and dry. Apart from the bathroom, they can be used anywhere you or your child want. They are very basic but helpful products.

Liberty Imports My First Cartoon RC Race Car Radio Remote Control Toy for Baby, Toddlers, Children

They are toys in great design and vibrant colors. Its design makes these toys fast and enjoyable. By the time, your child can get faster thanks to its design. They are great for children at 18 months and over. There is sound included. Both light and sound make it more attractive for children. It is easy to store, easy to carry, and easy to control. The remote control has 2 channel which is very basic not complicated at all. They are amazing and durable. Overall, it can be basically what you are looking for at its affordable price.

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