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Why doctors make the wrong diagnosis regarding autism

When a child is diagnosed with autism, it has a huge impact on the child's life and the lives of the parents. However, doctors do sometimes make mistakes when determining whether or not a child has autism. Below are a few examples of how a misdiagnosis can occur.

First of all, the child could have other medical conditions that make him or her act differently. Children cannot always tell medical professionals what is wrong, so the behavior may be the only indicators that the doctor has.

For example, one boy really needed to see a gastroenterologist, and he needed both speech therapy and play therapy. He was originally diagnosed with autism because of his behavior, but then he got the right medical treatment for these real ailments, and the behavior disappeared.

One of the biggest reasons for a misdiagnosis is when a child simply struggles to learn about speech and language cues on the schedule that the parents expect. This can happen due to language delay, apraxia and sensory issues.

This happened to one young girl who did show signs that seemed to indicate that she was autistic. When a speech pathologist worked with her, though, she started to look at people more often—which she had refused to do before—and was therefore able to read the language cues. She then learned sign language, and it was a short step from there for her to learn how to talk.

As you can see, the issues often lie in communication. It's important to keep this in mind if an autism diagnosis seems incorrect. Additionally, you may want to know your legal rights in Illinois regarding a wrong diagnosis and medical malpractice.

Source: Psychology Today, "What If the Diagnosis of Autism Is Wrong?," Ann Densmore, accessed Dec. 16, 2015

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