Open Memo to the authors of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM IV):
My son's developmental pediatrist explained to me that autistic spectrum disorders are defined by reference to a triangle, with one point being impairment of communication, one point being impairment of social interaction, and the third point being "stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests and activities."
Lets think about the analytical value of those diagnostic criteria, as applied to a two year old. The first two criteria can be applied with some degree of certainty.
But the third point - "stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests and activities"? It's absurd to assign diagnostic value to this criteria - toddlers by nature cling to routine. I'd be worred about a toddler that didn't exhibit stereotyped patterns of behavior. "Does your son have trouble with transitions?" the diagnostician asked. Hello? Have you ever observed a normal or neurotypical toddler before??? ALL toddlers have difficulty with transitions. Another dumb question: "Does your son cling to nonfunctional routines?" Please.
I'm calling it. The triangle is so yesterday, when diagnosis wasn't made until grade school. In this day and age, with early detection, that sucker should be called a line. Two points. Got that, DSM-IV? It's a line.