Sunday, January 03, 2010

teen autism: diagnosis, a hitchhiker's guide

Confusion is never good when it comes to support and help. From the outside looking in, yes, teen autism is beyond confusing.

Teen autism has been around. It just may have been diagnosed differently and certainly treated differently. Yet this is now and this is our time.

Autism (from the greek word meaning “self”) was first used in psychiatry in the early 1900’s as a symptom of schizophrenia.

In 1994, the American Psychiatric Association revised their Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV).

Following this, the number of students aged 6-21 with ‘autistic spectral disorders’ increased by 885% between 1994 and 2006, while during the same period the population of the United States only increased by 14.7% “New Data on Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) from Multiple Communities in the United States.” CDC 2007

Debating semantics of a health problem is a bit like everyone standing around pointing fingers about what to call the hole in the dyke while the little Dutch boy spends the night plugging it with his finger.

At the crest of this growing wave of children are now teens and young adults unable to care for themselves or even communicate. They need dramatically different resources.

Lacking any psychobabble initials after my name I put together an amateur visual aide for myself with types of teen autism and more familiar IQ scores to better understand.
This hitchhiker has only shared living with severe teen autism and moderate/mild mental retardation to the left of the pictured spectrum. That is what teen autism means to me.

Teen autism resources and services are limited and must be mined by families, too often competitively. A parent living with lower functioning teen autism and unable to leave their teen unattended has less time. Is it fair, no!

Then again, who should get the limited resources? That’s playing God time, and way out of my league.

Bottom line there needs to be more help and support and a lot less confusion.

Caregivingly Yours, Patrick Leer


  1. My sons new girlfriends son has Aspergers. He is a real sweetie but a challenge at time.

  2. It is a challenage for teachers also. When I search for methods of teaching the students with autism, it is very difficult to find materials that are age appropriate. Another issue I currently have is there are expectations at school and none at home. In other words, school, at times, is not fun for either students, teachers and parents.
    Jackie AKA BamaWmn

  3. That is the best-said bottom line I've ever read! More support and less confusion is definitely what we need.


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