No, what’s disturbing is that the APA is revising and, according to the preliminary data being cited, narrowing their definition on autism. The fear that parents, such as myself, have is that the new definition could declassify higher functioning autistics as well as those suffering from Aspergers Syndrome. This is a matter that hits home for my family as two of my children, Misery and Chaos for you Twitter followers, are autistic. While both are lower on the spectrum than Aspergers children, they’re still considered high functioning and are potentially at risk under this new classification.
There are multiple reasons why parents of special needs children are worried about this. For starters, the financial implications could be potentially disastrous to some. Under the new definition, insurance companies (not the most understanding of folk under the best of circumstances) could potentially cut off much needed therapy for many families. This would be further compounded by the potential of losing state provided services and benefits. Trust me when I say it’s difficult enough right now to get these services. I can’t speak for every town, but the one I live in has a nasty habit of considering budgetary impact before the needs of the children. We currently homeschool Chaos because our school district has fought us at every turn in this regard, always opting for lesser services over those our pediatrician (and other specialists) have called for. What will happen under this new definition?
The social aspect is potentially even more frightening. A reclassification could lead to some children being taken out of the special needs classrooms they currently attend and being put into the mainstream. If you’re like me, you remember school and how much like shark infested waters it was. The weakest of the normal kids often wind up being victims of the cruelties others can inflict. How so will children lacking even the basest of social defenses fare? We have friends who have attempted to mainstream their high-functioning children. The results have not been encouraging. While I want my children to lead as normal of a life as possible, I think I speak for many when I say I have no desire for their learning experience to involve being tossed into a meat grinder.
Yet all of that potentially looms over our heads, like the Sword of Damocles, when this new definition comes out. I’m fairly sure we’re not the only parents losing sleep over this. So we watch and wait, hoping that this all turns out to be yet another thing overblown by the media. If not, I fear that the new definition will do little more than further the cause of those hoping to save a few dollars. Sadly, these savings will only come at the expense of children who can’t fight back and may never even be given the chance, should this come to pass.