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Disability Advocates At Odds Over ‘Wandering’ Proposal for Autism Diagnostic Coding - featured March 18, 2011

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[Source: Disability Scoop]

Disability advocates are divided over a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention proposal to add wandering to the menu of descriptors doctors can use to diagnose individuals with autism, intellectual disability and other conditions.

Under the proposal, which is up for public comment through April 1, wandering would be added to the CDC’s diagnostic coding system as a secondary classification that could be applied to individuals with developmental disabilities.

But whether or not a person’s tendency to wander away from home or school should be considered a medical issue is proving contentious.

Advocates for the proposal say that creating a diagnostic code for wandering would increase awareness and force schools, clinicians and the community at large to address the issue.

“If we have a diagnosis people are going to take this a lot more seriously,” says Wendy Fournier, president of the National Autism Association, which is behind the push to establish a code for wandering. “It is not a child misbehaving. This is a child with a cognitive difference who does not understand danger.”

Fournier’s group is collaborating with Autism Speaks, the Autism Science Foundation, Talk About Curing Autism and a handful of other groups in support of the CDC proposal, which they argue will save lives.

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Tags: News of the Week Autism Newsletter 18 March 2011