Consequences of Losing the Autism Diagnosis

Some parents mentioned that it is possible to lose the autism diagnosis, by getting a second opinion from an autism professional to state that either the initial diagnosis was inaccurate or that the autistic has somehow managed to “grow” out of autism. Some autistics like the idea because they will no longer face discrimination from society.

However, watching the discussion on this topic make me feel rather uncomfortable. Sidestepping the question of whether autism can be converted into Neurotypicalism, there are other issues:


1) The medical model of disability stating that autism is a defect/disorder is central to this issue. Obviously, autism is the villain here and not a hero as the neurodiversity model would suppose. How many of us will still say that those with special needs are differently-abled if the option for a magic wand can miraculously remove these special needs? How many autistics will still be proud of autism if they can instantly convert to being NeuroTypical by taking a magical pill?


2) Autism is not a set of behaviors. This misconception is based on the concept of behavioral psychology, which posits that only observed behavior is real. The diagnosis of autism is currently built on the observation of certain patterns of behaviors, so if the autistic does not exhibit behaviors used to diagnose autism (at least in public), then he/she should automatically lose his/her diagnosis.

This is confusing the map for the territory or thinking that the tail is wagging the dog. It is the different way that autistic minds work that generate different behaviors, not the other way around. The fact that someone is able to behave like a NeuroTypical does not make him/her a NeuroTypical; it makes him/her an actor/actress.


3) Losing a diagnosis does not have any impact on the person, but on how other people see that person. The person still has social, sensory, chronic fatigue, executive functioning issues etc. A diagnostic label is supposed to help people with challenges get accommodation from challenges faced by their biomedical, developmental or neurological differences; removing the label means that the person has to do without these accommodations. Being able to fit into NeuroTypical society does not mean that doing so is easy and stress-free.

Being able to fit into NeuroTypical society does not mean that doing so is easy and stress-free. Being able to fit in does not mean that all the issues have been resolved, but may have simply been swept under the carpet.


4) If the autistic has previously claimed insurance benefits or special accommodations for autism (e.g. military service exemption), then losing their diagnosis may complicate matters. Did this youth really have autism, or did he acquire the label of autism only to evade the duties of serving his nation? People may start asking questions about the integrity of the people who change their diagnosis for their personal benefit or convenience.


5) Getting and then losing diagnostic labels easily raises serious ethical issues. At the very least, these call into question the integrity of the psychiatric profession and add fuel to the fire to the theory of conspiracy theorists that psychiatric professionals invented the invisible disability labels for their personal profit.

If people believe that autism is bogus, the effects will be devastating to the autism community. There are already many people who openly challenge the existence of autism. They insist that the problematic behavior of autistic children is due to bad parenting, and some tough love (e.g. spanking and caning) will fix all these issues. Making a fool of the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) will likely embolden them to pressure governments to stop wasting precious taxpayer money on these nonsense issues.