Learning disabilities seem to be on a rise today.  Everything from complex disorders such as autism to simple illnesses such as ADD.  So, why have the diseases become so much more common?

Some people blame our environment, saying things like plastics and hormones result in mental illness even after conception and before birth.  These people have a very common disorder known as “idiocy.”

The truth is, these diseases are not more common at all.  As medical science developed we simply became better at recognizing diseases in individuals.  People who simply seemed to be eccentric or, for lack of a better word, slow were now seen for having real diseases that needed real treatment.  However, it seems today we have gotten a little too good at recognizing mental illness.

They say one of every hundred children has autism, and that great minds like Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, and Stephen Spielberg have Asperger’s (a milder class of autism).  Now, these individuals are consider to be “high functioning,” or having no real symptoms of autism side from being asocial.  These people are not diseased, they are simply asocial.  A vast amount of children are diagnosed with ADD or ADHD at the slightest sight of anything somewhat resembling a symptom.  While these two diseases are real, not everybody, far from everybody, diagnosed is an actual patient.  Usually, they are hyper or just plain stupid.

The sad truth is that it is easier to tell a parent their kid has a disorder and provide them with a figurative placebo than simply explain “Your child is what we professionals call… stupid.”  These diseases are real and a serious problem, but we need to recognize the patients from the… others.  It’s not a matter of what one is more like, it is a matter of the presence of illness.

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  1. Actually, your numbers are off: “About 1 in 88 children has been identified with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) according to estimates from CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network” according to the http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/data.html
    I do think there are some mental disorders that have a biological genesis…autism may be one as the jump from 1 in a hundred to 1 in 88 indicates a huge jump since the last study. I will also say that the mentally ill are no longer stuffed away in institutions and that medication has kept many mentally ill people productive. But you may be right on the overdiagnosis….a few too many people are popping pills today!


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