The very definition of autism has been expanded in recent years to include what is called "the autism spectrum." What this means, among other things, is that there is now far more wiggle room for those whose diagnoses have proved to be wrong, who refuse to admit it, and who are now even more unaccountable than ever.
According to Professor Camarata, those children "with true autism" are "very difficult to treat and may never say 'mommy' or learn to take care of themselves without Herculean efforts by their parents and teachers."
We would see the dangers immediately if people who wear glasses were included on "the blindness spectrum" or people with harmless moles were included on "the cancer spectrum."
Blindness, cancer and autism are all too serious -- indeed, catastrophic -- to use loose definitions that fudge the difference between accurate and inaccurate diagnoses.
Sowell is not an official spokesperson for the group, but his books provide the foundation for the group's stated philosophy. In sum, the Late Talker group appears to reject the term "autistic spectrum disorder." And in the comments section here, Esthart appears to subscribe to this line of thinking. Hence, the individuals that the medical community regards as being on the mild end of the spectrum aren't autistic, according to the late talker community, because the spectrum itself doesn't exist.
The late talker group appears to stand against the entire medical community and a huge body of medical research in taking this position. Plus, if some one can be severely autistic, why does the late talker community believe some one can't be "a little autistic"? Is there something about autism that doesn't lend itself to gradations? The answer is: NO. An individual can absolutely have "mild" autism. I should know. I'm the mother of one such individual.
In the comments section, we have also been debating the merits of a quality evaluation. I agree with Esthart that a one hour evaluation (which is what Brad received) is inadequate. In Engaging Autism, Dr. Greenspan is similarly critical of evaluations that are too brief, and that don't allow the examiner to adequately observe the child with his or her parents.
However, in this blogger's subjective opinion, the group goes a step further and indirectly channels its members to a single doctor who rejects the idea of the autistic spectrum. And this is the basis for my belief that its members "have their heads in the sand" and are dodging the diagnosis.
And to those members, I say: if your child is just a little autistic, the truth will set you free. The genius versus idiot paradigm has been discredited. Your child can be "a little bit autistic," and the sky won't fall. You might even gain a better understanding of his condition. Autism is a developmental disorder, not a isolated language delay. There may be low grade sensory issues to consider. For example, the "perfect child" who never went through the terrible twos or didn't go through the terrible twos until age 3 may be under-reactive to sensory data. Likewise, the child who is prone to melting down at restaurants may be hypersensitive to sensory data. If you're avoiding developmental pediatricians that will diagnose mild autism (which is the bulk of the medical establishment), you're missing a very valuable perspective.