Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Label for life?

There have been reported increases in the incidence of autism in the United States (as in other parts of the world).  Given the seeming ‘need’ to label children, is this any wonder? 
I had taken the boys along to the paediatrician for Nic’s fifteen-month and Luc’s three-year check-up a couple of weeks ago. 

The doctor asked if I had any concerns about the boys. I had none. He asked about Nic’s vocabulary. Nic has spoken a number of words, but with NO regularity. This is of no particular concern to Paul and myself as his understanding is very good and he has his own language – ‘babble’, or as Luc says “He is speaking French”. The doctor mentioned that he should have a vocabulary of about 6 words at his age. By eighteen months, he should have a vocabulary of 20 words… if not, then perhaps they would consider testing for autism
I was a little shocked at this – I have seen enough children to know that variance in language – extent of, and ability – can be marked. I am sure that Luc’s vocabulary wasn’t that great at the same age… and our doctors in Australia didn’t show the slightest concern or start travelling down the ‘autism path’.

I related my concern to my friend Polly. Polly recounted a similar incident. She had taken her son Callan in for a check-up last year, and happened to mention his then current obsession with completing jigsaw puzzles. Polly was shocked when the paediatrician mentioned that, given this obsession, perhaps they would test for Aspergers Syndrome. Polly, being British, was sure that in England, they would have given Callan a pat on the back and said “Good show, well done”. 

Perhaps given testing, the entire population would be diagnosed with autism, ADD, ADHD, or some other ‘condition’ – only the degree or extent of ‘infliction’ would vary. I wonder?

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