Letter to the editor: Autism struggle is real
In “Shedding light on autism” John Rosemond claims children diagnosed on the autism spectrum are often not legitimately autistic but only a “tad peculiar.” As a psychologist with 30 years' experience working directly with children on the autism spectrum, I find his claims to be misguided and likely to only increase parents' confusion and strife.
Practitioners work diligently to accurately diagnose, and, if anything, mild autism is underdiagnosed. A child with mild autism may appear only “a little quirky” without the casual observer knowing what's happening behind the scenes in the child's life. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders requires that “symptoms cause clinically significant impairment … .”
Parents seeking help do so for a reason. Even if symptoms appear only “mild” to others, their child is struggling. It's vital to ascertain the extent to which autism symptomology is contributing to these struggles and provide necessary treatment. Casting doubt on this process only hurts children.
Rosemond naively claims to have “done a good amount of reading on this issue.” Instead, he needs to spend a week with me and meet these children and their families.
The writer is clinical director of the Autism Center of Pittsburgh.