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Diagnosis Autism: Now What? A Simplified Biomedical Approach

In 2002, my older son, Isaiah, was diagnosed with autism. At the time I had been practicing as a family physician for about five years. Prior to his diagnosis, Isaiah loved to get down on the floor and spin objects, and I thought it was cool, so I helped him. He also used to shake his hands back and forth in the air for hours. When I tried to shake my hands like him, I tired out in a couple of minutes. I couldn’t figure out how he could do it for hours! He had a significant speech delay and walked very late. However, despite all of these problems, I did not have a CLUE that he had autism. I remember when my wife and I went to his psychological evaluation to determine what was wrong with him. He was evaluated by a pediatric neurologist and several psychologists, and we spent the morning with him during the testing. We were then told to go to lunch while the team met to determine a diagnosis. I remember as we sat in McDonalds eating French fries and cheeseburgers that my wife and I discussed that maybe the team would say he had “autistic tendencies.” It was quite a shock to us when Isaiah was actually diagnosed with autism! For the first year after his diagnosis, my wife started looking into biomedical treatments, which I considered “quackery.”