The diagnosis of Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD) is rising, and the explanation is difficult to identify. Multiple factors play a role in diagnosis beyond the presenting symptoms. First, society is simply more aware of ASD than before, due to increased exposure. However, greater awareness alone does not give the full picture. Second, having a child with ASD within a community increases the likelihood of more diagnoses. Lastly, despite parents' resistance to labeling their children, they may feel pressured to accept a diagnosis in order to receive services that teachers or mental health professionals deem necessary. Despite the diagnostic criteria in the DSM-IV-TR, social influences could have had an effect on diagnosis. Moreover, the method of diagnosis may not depend solely on symptomology. Mental health professionals may consider other factors, such as IQ, when deciding which subtype of autism best fits the child. As a result, diagnostic labels for ASD have diminished meaning, as many children could fit the criteria for multiple subtypes. This calls into question the reliability of diagnosis and the real possibility that social pressure could lead to the misdiagnosis of ASD, causing unnecessary stress for the children and their families. With the release of the DSM-5, the impact of societal influences should lessen.
"Defining Autism: Social Influences and the Need for the New Classification,"
Intuition: The BYU Undergraduate Journal of Psychology: Vol. 10:
2, Article 2.
Available at: https://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/intuition/vol10/iss2/2