Coming soon: a rapid increase in diagnosed learning disabilities
I’ve read before that the number of kids diagnosed as learning disabled (one way or another) has increased rapidly over the last couple decades. My usual amount (5 minutes) of internet research didn’t turn up a lot, but have a look at this (emphasis in the original):
Jane Healy, in her book “Endangered Minds”, investigated the rise of ABC disorders. She found both overdiagnosis and overmedication, but nevertheless identified this as a real problem that is getting progressively worse.
She evaluated standardized test scores for 4th graders, comparing the 1960s to 1980s, and noted a huge decrease in the difficulty of the tests. Despite this, scores decreased during this period, and continue to do so, particularly in measurements of language skills and cognitive abilities.
- In NYC, there is a 55% increase in Learning Disability diagnoses from 1983-1996.
- California reported Autism diagnoses increased by 210% from 1987-1998
- other states have shown 1000% increases.
- In 2000, 1 in 6 kids fall into the ABC spectrum
- 1 in 10 kids have some form of affective disorder.
I’m not commenting on whether these diagnoses are correct or not. Not my call, nor should it be. But I will note that everyone involved seems to have an incentive to find a positive diagnosis.
And now we come to Bruce McQuain, who asks:
Is being a slacker now a disability?
He links this story:
…Employers are facing more uncertainty in the wake of a letter from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission warning them that requiring a high school diploma from a job applicant might violate the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Requiring actual credentials…that’s un-American!
This isn’t a law, mind you. Nor a regulation. It’s just an “informal discussion letter,” which I take it lies somewhere between “thinking out loud” and a “meaningful nudge.”
Still. You can’t require a high school diploma? The EEOC may not be aware of this, but even learning disabled students manage to graduate. No, really. It’s true*.
Some don’t, I’m sure. I’m also sure that many students who aren’t learning disabled also fail to graduate.
But wait a minute – if I’m interpreting this correctly, then an employer can require a high school diploma if you dropped out due to your own laziness or incompetence or circumstances. If you’re not diagnosed learning disabled, good luck getting a job, loser!
Which means: if you’re a high school dropout, or you think you might become one, then get yourself diagnosed.
Makes me wonder how one gets credentialed for making that diagnosis, and how much one could charge. Because I’m envisioning a franchise of 15-minute-diagnosis storefronts – satisfaction guaranteed! Maybe we could just set up kiosks in shopping malls.
Next stop: forcing insurance companies to pay for it!
* I’m sure there’s a bowling joke in here somewhere.