Having a child that is diagnosed with a mental or physical disability can be extremely difficult for a parent. Not only do parents need to deal with the emotional turmoil associated with raising a disabled child, they also need to worry about the financial aspects associated with years of medical bills and therapy sessions. Fortunately, there are various programs set up to help parents and children alike. However, potential changes to how some mental disorders such as autism are classified have many parents worried.
Changes proposed by the American Psychiatric Association could alter how certain mental disorders, including autism, are classified and thereby treated and funded. The proposed changes would specifically affect children diagnosed with higher functioning forms of autism such as Asperger’s and Pervasive Developmental Disorder. Under the provisions, these categories would no longer exist. Rather these disorders would be lumped together and known generally under “autism spectrum disorder”.
While the APA contends the reclassification will allow for more accurate diagnosis and management, many parents fear it will ultimately result in decreased funding and treatment options for children diagnosed with higher functioning forms of autism.
A major concern for parents is access to therapy and treatment programs aimed to help autistic children develop the social skills they often lack. Parents whose children have benefited from these types of programs know firsthand how important they are and the positive impact they’ve made in their child’s life.
Parents are also concerned over the potential financial implications of the proposed changes. Today children diagnosed with autism are eligible to receive Social Security Disability benefits, but this may be modified if classification standards change.
Oregon parents who have a child that’s been diagnosed with Asperger’s or Pervasive Developmental Disorder should be sure to keep abreast of any changes in classification to these mental disorders.
Source: Beaver County Times, “Proposed change to autism diagnosis worries parents,” Kristen Doerschner, Feb. 27, 2012