Originally Posted by caned & able
If the diagnosis changed in 1994, how is it that someone would have been diagnosed 30+ years ago?
It is my understanding that the same trick was done with polio, i.e., the definition of the disease being manipulated when the vaccine was developed.
Some people met the much stricter definition of autism in the 1960's. I wouldn't really consider this a "trick." I think it's appropriate to change diagnostic standards when you have more knowledge of the disorder. Kind of like how homosexuality used to be considered a mental illness. It would be shameful if the medical community still considered it a mental illness because we now know it's not.
Initially, the "classic" definition of autism required that the symptoms be in the presence of normal, or apparently normal, intelligence. So back then anyone who was autistic and also MR/DD would only receive a diagnosis of mental retardation. Later on, the prevailing view was that all autistic people were mentally retarded, so people who had apparently normal intelligence would get some other kind of diagnosis, like childhood schizophrenia. Now it is recognized that autism can occur in combination with any kind of IQ, so that means more people get an autism diagnosis than before.