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Autism – a modern epidemic? An interesting article on how over-diagnosis of autism has supplanted under-diagnosis.

July 21, 2011

Autism used to be a very rare phenomenon and was typically represented by severely limited individuals who could manage little, if any, social interaction. However in recent years it has become an increasingly common diagnosis, with many patients, who seem to have a fairly high level of social skills, being diagnosed with mild autism. In a short article Allen Frances MD (Chair of the DSM IV Task Force) task force comments on a recent study in Korea and suggests that autism is being over-diagnosed.

"Not long ago, autism was among the rarest of disorders, afflicting only one child in every 2,000-5,000. This changed dramatically with the publication in 1994 of DSM IV (the manual of psychiatric diagnosis widely used around the world). Soon, rates exploded to about 1 per 100. And a large study in South Korea recently reported a further jump to 1 in 38 – an astounding 3% of the general population was labeled autistic. What is causing this epidemic and where are we headed?"


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