Autism diagnosis is performed using a variety of tests and methods, which are most often accurate, but in some cases we still see false positive or false negative results even when everything is done right. If a child is incorrectly diagnosed to have autism, the child would be going through expensive treatment and using medication that could have negative side effects.
The state of the diagnostic science is such that for the roughly seven percent of children who outgrow the diagnosis (Shulman and colleagues, 2019), we are not sure if those children were falsely diagnosed or early intervention actually “cured” them. Most researchers would argue that one cannot be cured of autism, but that is perhaps debatable.
For a child with autism, a false negative result could mean the child misses important early intervention which is proven to lessen the debilitating effects of the condition.
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