On behalf of Hastings Law Firm posted in Failure to Diagnose on Monday, April 14, 2014.

The percentage of children in America diagnosed with autism has grown by leaps and bounds in the past several years. In 2002, roughly one out of every 150 kids in Texas and the US was diagnosed as being autistic. Now, that number is only one in 68. There are experts who credit this toward some doctors’ failure to diagnose a child correctly.

A University of California program, Autism Intervention and Research, advises that waiting for an autism diagnosis when it is already suspected is not beneficial. In fact, they state that failing to obtain a diagnosis at a young age yields less overall help for a child who may need it. This is particularly noteworthy in children younger than six years old.

But while logic does dictate that a 4-year-old autistic child was also once an autistic 2-year-old, some doctors say that autistic symptoms at that age can prove to be problematic for diagnosing purposes. There are instances of children who are both slow to mature as well as late talkers that may exhibit symptoms similar to autism. However, at such a young age, picky eating and tantrum throwing may also simply be attributed to normal toddler behavior.

There are some who fear these slow-to-mature children who happen to display some relatively normal toddler tendencies may be contributing to the rise in autism diagnosis. Additionally, a doctor’s failure to diagnose an otherwise neurotypical child correctly may result in therapies and interventions that are not needed, as well as a diagnosis that may set a child apart from their peers when it comes time for school. If the failure to diagnose a child correctly results in a Texas child receiving the incorrect treatment, parents retain the right to file a medical malpractice claim in order to be justly compensated for their children’s unnecessary medical intervention.

Source: Quartz, “One in 68 American children is diagnosed with autism. It’s probably too many”, Enrico Gnaulati, April 11, 2014