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Professor Says Psychologists, Parents, And Educators Exploit Children's Behavior Diagnoses
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
July 28, 2003

LONDON, ENGLAND--Priscilla Alderson, professor of childhood studies at London University, claimed in a newspaper interview that children's misbehavior is too often blamed on medical syndromes such as attention deficit disorder and mild autism.

Her comments are expected to anger mental health professionals, parents and educators, many of whom have fought for years to have these diagnoses officially recognized.

Professor Alderson told The Times that these diagnoses are being exploited by psychologists who want to "make a quick buck". "Money is behind all this," she said. "Psychologists want the work, and lower the diagnosis threshold accordingly."

She also claimed that it is convenient for neglectful parents to blame their child's behavior on a 'behavioral disorder' label.

"Special needs is an administrative device describing children who have extra needs from those provided for in the average classroom," Alderman said.

Alderson added that much of the increase in special needs diagnoses could have to do with more flexible interpretations of what used to be considered normal childhood traits, such as restlessness and excitability. She suggested that much of the problem has to do with children today being forced to stay inside, because of safety concerns, rather than being able to run and play outside.

"This can only add to the stress and confusion that many families face," responded Eileen Hopkins, a director of the National Autistic Society. "The importance of receiving a correct diagnosis cannot be emphasized enough.

Related article:
"Anger over UK professor's claims that unruly behaviour, including autism, 'is being falsely attributed to medical syndromes'" (The Times via


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