Skip to content Skip to footer

Autism has been hijacked by middle class “diagnosis creep”

The medical doctor and psychiatrist warns that the dangers of diagnosis creep related to autism spectrum disorder - fuelled by the private healthcare industry keen to diagnose wealthy new patients, and parents happy to label their children autistic to explain behavioural issues - are hurting not only the mis-diagnosed, but diverting essential resources away from genuine patients in need of life-changing help
Dr Max Pemberton
Dr Max Pemberton

Dr Max Pemberton is medical doctor, journalist and author. He works full-time as a psychiatrist in the National Health Service, specialising in eating disorders and addiction. He has written multiple best-selling books, including Trust me, I’m A (Junior) Doctor; Where Does it Hurt?; and The Marvellous Adventure of Being Human. He lives in London, England. Follow him on X. Visit maxpemberton.com.

“Diagnosis creep denies genuine patients help”

That was the shocking summary of a recent study that found that “diagnosis creep” – the term used to explain how an ever-increasing list of symptoms are used to diagnose a disease or illness – is especially affecting autism spectrum disorder, a group of is neurological and developmental disorders that affects how people interact with others, communicate, learn, and behave.

For Dr Max Pemberton, a medical doctor and psychiatrist who spent more than a decade running National Health Service clinics treating patients with severe eating disorders and addictions, this diagnosis creep of accepted autism indicators, combined with more and more middle class parents claiming their children are on the autism spectrum, is a huge concern.

Why? Because the more people who claim that they, or their children have autism, with scant or even non-existent clinical evidence that they do, will divert the limited time, care, expertise and financial resources away from those suffering with the most severe autism disorders that impact every aspect of their lives, as well as those of their family.

Sign Up to Our Newsletter

Be the first to know the latest updates

[yikes-mailchimp form="1"]