Letter: Look closer at autism definition
The news story "Survey: 1 in 50 kids has autism" [March 21] requires a decisively negative response. Health officials say the new number suggests that doctors are diagnosing autism more frequently, especially in children with milder problems.
Educators want to consider temperament, attitudes and the ability students have to relate to their peers and adults as factors that contribute to success in school and as adults in the working world. This is good.
However, the labeling of these non-intellective factors as autistic or autistic-like, is just plain wrong.
Autism is a complete withdrawal from reality. The word should be used only by those professionally qualified to use it.
A 1973 federal court case, Merriken v. Cressman, declared "when a program talks about labeling someone as a particular type and such a label could remain with him for the remainder of his life, the margin for error must be almost nil."
Jane Goldblatt, East Northport
Editor's note: The writer is a retired teacher.