Can Some Children ‘lose’ Autism Diagnosis New Evidence Says Yes
Most children with autism become adults with autism, retaining the same relationship, school, work and communication issues, but a new study says some individuals diagnosed with an autism disorder in early childhood can outgrow the disorder.
These children have a clear case of autism when they are young, but now do not meet the criteria for any autistic disorder,” explained study author Deborah Fein, a professor of psychology at the University of Connecticut who researches autism. Their social functioning is very good, they’re all functioning in mainstream education with no support.
One in 88 children is now affected by autism, which is the fastest-growing developmental disability in the U.S. Experts do not know why some children appear to outgrow the diagnosis as they age; there is no cure or medical test for autism.
In the new study, published online in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry Wednesday and supported by the National Institutes of Health, Fein and her colleagues looked at 34 “optimal outcome” individuals between 8 and 21 who were previously diagnosed with an autism disorder, but are now indistinguishable from their non-autistic peers. They showed no problems with language, communication, social interaction and facial recognition,” which can be difficult for individuals with autism.
This is not a common outcome, she said. We don’t know what the percent is — it’s almost certainly under 25 percent, and it may be significantly lower than that.
Study Limitations & Possible Conclusions
There are limitations to these studies that affect how we can interpret the results.
- Misdiagnosis: A possible reason for a change in an autism diagnosis is that a child was misdiagnosed in the first place. Many of the studies use a childs prior medical records to verify that the child has autism. The childs diagnosis is not verified through separate testing and assessment.Children can be diagnosed with autism as young as 18 months old, but many of the developmental delays that indicate autism can even out by age 2 or so. Because of this, an autism diagnosis is often not considered stable until at least age 2. Children who are diagnosed too early can be misdiagnosed.
- Higher innate cognitive abilities: Children in the autism studies who achieve the optimal outcome often begin with a higher level of cognitive abilities and higher IQs than what is considered standard. These children are potentially better equipped to learn how to manage autism and observe social cues to mask their autistic symptoms later in life. Many children have mild symptoms that go unnoticed until they start school. Social pressures become too overwhelming, and these mild symptoms may begin to show. These children didnt suddenly develop autism. They have merely been hiding their symptoms. They developed coping skills on their own that worked up until this point.
What Causes Autism Spectrum Disorder
There is no clear-cut cause of ASD. Some causes that are supported by research include genetic and some environmental factors. Specific genetic causes can only be identified in 10% to 20% of cases. These cases include specific genetic syndromes associated with ASD and rare changes in the genetic code.
Risk factors include older parental age, low birth weight, prematurity and maternal use of valproic acid or thalidomide during pregnancy, among others. This field of study is an active one for reasearch.
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Some Children Do Outgrow Autism But It’s Not What You Think
In the largest national study of children with autism to date, researchers examined one of the most mysterious aspects of autism spectrum disorder: that it sometimes simply vanishes.
An estimated 1 in 68 children have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder in the U.S., but researchers are beginning to take note of a small minority of children with ASD who seem to “grow out” of their diagnoses.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention surveyed more than 1,400 children with ASD — the largest nationally representative sample of children with autism to date — and found that about 13 percent of them seemed to shed their ASD-associated behaviors as they grew up.
The catch: that doesn’t mean they’ve stumbled upon some kind of miracle therapy or cure. Rather, as some previous researchers theorized, most of them were simply misdiagnosed or intentionally diagnosed with ASD for other reasons.
“The present study confirms that ASD diagnoses can and sometimes do change as children mature and overcome delays, and as new information is assimilated by their healthcare providers,” said Stephen Blumberg, lead author and an associate director for science at the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics.
Based on parent feedback, the diagnosis most often disappears in:
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Group Homes Create Families
Barbara Fischkin also helped create a home for her son Dan. She first shared the story of his miracle group homefunded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and run by the Nassau County Chapter of AHRC, a nonprofit grouptwo years ago. Then, she described it as a newly renovated house on Long Islanda place I call the frat house. Actually, it is a beautiful and smartly designed home that could be a model for such endeavors nationwide. And the guys, who are in their 20s and 30s, are all at the age when leaving home and family and striking out on your owneven if you need lots of staff to helpis something one yearns to do.
Two years later, she reports that Dan, now 24, and his three housemates become more like a family all the time. The guys look out for one another. Dan is still not verbal and has an aide most of the time but is making great progress with independent typing.
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Can You Outgrow Autism And 5 Other Facts Parents Need To Know
April is National Autism Awareness month, but as scientists discover more about Autism Spectrum Disorder every day, Autism makes the news on a weekly basis all year round. There is still so much we don’t know, but also a lot that we are starting to understand about this condition that impacts between 1 in 40 children in the United States, according to the AAP.
Outgrowing Autism A Closer Look At Children Who Read Early Or Speak Late
Some of these children may never have had autism in the first place, despite being diagnosed with it
For illustration purposes only.
The headlines read New study suggests autism can be outgrown, or outgrowing autism: a doctors surprise and wonder. The stories are based on studies reporting that 7-9% of children with a documented early autistic syndrome disorder have no symptoms of the disorder on follow-up later in childhood or adolescence. That is good news. The question is how to account for it.
Is it possible to simply outgrow autism? Was the initial diagnosis wrong? Did some interventions work? Or might there be other explanations for this welcome news?
“In an earlier column titled;Oops. When autism isnt autistic disorder,;I outlined three types of hyperlexia, or precocious reading ability, which is sometimes;an element of a diagnosis of ASD. Type 1 are neurotypical children who simply read way ahead of their chronological age. Listening to a 4 year old reading books to his or her nursery school classmates is a startling experience.
Type 2 are children in which intense fascination with letters and numbers, along with early reading and remarkable memory represent splinter skills as a part of autistic syndrome disorder
In the meantime a cautious differential diagnostic approach, along with careful, watchful observation over time is advised especially when early reading or late speaking are the presenting symptoms.
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Aging Out Of Services
This forced transition, called aging out, pushes them into the woefully lacking system for disabled adults. And its not just those with more severely disabled children who are worried. Parents whose children are termed high-functioning, including those with an Aspergers diagnosis, have reason to be concerned that their kidswho may be dealing with things like ADHD, anxiety and sensory issues in addition to their social and communication delaysare not going to magically stop needing support after they reach a certain chronological age.
Liane Kupferberg Carters autistic son Mickey turns 20 in July and, Carter, who has written much about the challenges of raising a child on the spectrum, admits to floundering.I dont know how to do this, she says. When our son Jonathan was preparing to leave home for college, we had a whole shelf of books to guide our family. But theres no such book guiding Carter as she faces the next step with her verbal but cognitively challenged son, diagnosed with PDD-NOS. Were making it up as we go, she says. Carter is certain of only one thing for Mickey, who likes to camp it up in a pair of Groucho Marx glasses: Due to his cognitive challenges and autism-related epilepsy, which is only partially controlled by medication, he will always need a supervised living situation.
Can Some Children Outgrow Autism
Some toddlers thought to have mild autism “outgrow” the diagnosis, but most continue to struggle with language and behaviour, new research suggests.
The study is not the first to document cases of autism “recovery”. Doctors have known for decades that a small number of young children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder seem to outgrow it.
Initial diagnosis may be wrong
But what does that mean for those kids? The findings suggest that the vast majority continue to face challenges and need support, said lead researcher Dr Lisa Shulman.
Her team found that of the 38 children who “lost” their autism diagnosis, most were found to have other conditions including learning disabilities, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and anxiety disorders.
Why did the picture change for those children?
That’s the “million-dollar question”, said Shulman, a professor of paediatrics at Albert Einstein College of Medicine/Montefiore Health System in New York City.
One possibility is that the initial diagnosis was wrong. But it’s also possible some children responded to early therapy aimed at supporting their development.
Shulman suspects both scenarios are true.
On the other hand, early behavioural therapy can help children with autism build their social and language skills, and ease behaviour issues. So young kids who respond may no longer meet the criteria for autism at a certain point.
Intensive services can be very helpful
‘Evolution’ of diagnoses
R75 per month
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Dont Wait For A Diagnosis
As the parent of a child with ASD or related developmental delays, the best thing you can do is to start treatment right away. Seek help as soon as you suspect somethings wrong. Dont wait to see if your child will catch up later or outgrow the problem. Dont even wait for an official diagnosis. The earlier children with autism spectrum disorder get help, the greater their chance of treatment success. Early intervention is the most effective way to speed up your childs development and reduce the symptoms of autism over the lifespan.
When your child has autism
Learn about autism. The more you know about autism spectrum disorder, the better equipped youll be to make informed decisions for your child. Educate yourself about the treatment options, ask questions, and participate in all treatment decisions.
Become an expert on your child. Figure out what triggers your kids challenging or disruptive behaviors and what elicits a positive response. What does your child find stressful or frightening? Calming? Uncomfortable? Enjoyable? If you understand what affects your child, youll be better at troubleshooting problems and preventing or modifying situations that cause difficulties.
Dont give up. Its impossible to predict the course of autism spectrum disorder. Dont jump to conclusions about what life is going to be like for your child. Like everyone else, people with autism have an entire lifetime to grow and develop their abilities.
What Kind Of Research Was This
This was an;observational study;that documented the cognitive, language and social functioning of a group of individuals who had been diagnosed with autism at a young age but who no longer had an autism diagnosis. It is part of a larger ongoing study looking in detail at these individuals.
In this study, the researchers compared the functioning of these children to two other groups:
- one group of individuals with high functioning autism
- one group of individuals with “typical development”
They wanted to find out if the first group still had some residual symptoms of autism or if they genuinely fell within the normal range of functioning.
The authors say that although autistic spectrum disorders , which also include Asperger syndrome and pervasive developmental disorder, are generally regarded as lifelong, some research suggests that a small number of children with an early history of autism do not meet the criteria for this diagnosis in later years.
Although this could be due to an initial misdiagnosis, some studies suggest that with the right intervention, some individuals can achieve an “optimal outcome” , no longer meeting the criteria for diagnosis of ASD, and losing all symptoms.
Studying individuals who have “lost the diagnosis”, the researchers say, has important implications for understanding:
- the neurobiology of autism how autism affects the brain and how the brain affects autism
- the impact of therapy on functioning
- the mechanisms underlying improvement
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Causes Of Autism Spectrum Disorder
Although the exact cause of;autism spectrum disorder ;is not known, current research points to genetic changes that occur during a baby’s development in the womb. Autism spectrum disorder tends to run in families, and researchers are trying to identify genes that may be passed down through the generations. Special types of brain images taken of children with the condition show that certain areas of their brains develop and function differently from those of children without the condition.;Autism spectrum disorder;is not caused by bad parenting.
Working With A Job Coach
Nat works three days a week, sharing a job coach with two other young men. This coach, paid for by a state allocation, looks out for Nat at his job at CVS stocking coolers, making sure he understands what he is expected to do and stays on task. Hes also about to start a trial run at a second job retrieving shopping carts at a grocery store. Currently Nat spends the other two days in DayHab, short for Day Habilitation Services, meant to help people with developmental disabilities improve or maintain their independent living skills.
DayHab is often babysitting, Senator says, table top activities, coloring, television or sheltered workshops, with very little out in the community, and theres a mixture of disabilities. This isnt true of Nats program, she says; all of his colleagues, as Senator terms them, are developmentally or intellectually delayed, possibly due to autism or Down syndrome.
Half of Nats funding comes from the state, half from Medicaid. After hes given a budget for rent, living expenses, transportation and his job coach, the family works with Nats service provider to come up with ways to stretch the money, Senator says. The family pays for extras like a recent three-day outing with a social group to New Hampshire.
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It’s True That Grandparents May Notice It First
A study published in the journal Autism found that a quarter of parents of kids diagnosed with ASD reported that someone other than mom or dad was the first to suggest their child might think differently. Of those, nearly 60% said it was the child’s grandmother who first brought up the possibility of ASD.
It’s not that becoming a grandmother makes people automatically great at spotting Autism, but rather that parents who are with their children every single day may not notice things that a close yet not daily observer might.
Your Partner May Be Affected By Low Sex Drive Too
Though the research is still preliminary, elevated prolactin levels in new dads are thought to induce child-care behavior, just like in moms, while reducing testosterone levels after birth.
Studies have shown that the more dads interact with their baby, the lower their testosterone levels dip, decreasing libido and causing them to focus less on wanting to have sex and more on wanting to nurture. This serves to ensure that dads invest more energy in parental care than in making a new baby, while helping them relax and enjoy their newborn.
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Losing An Autism Diagnosis
Its rare, but some children with autism spectrum disorder lose their symptoms. Psychologists are exploring why, and how these children fare long term.
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Monitor on Psychology50
As a young psychologist in the 1970s, Deborah Fein, PhD, became fascinated by a clinical mystery: A few of her patients with autism spectrum disorder who at age 2 had exhibited classic signs of the disorderhand flapping, repetitive behaviors and lack of direct eye gaze, for examplewere symptom-free by age 7.;
As time went on, she saw more of these cases, and in 2014, she was the first to demonstrate empirically that young people who had lost the diagnosiswho no longer exhibited basic clinical markers of the disordertested about the same as typically developing young people on socialization, communication, face recognition and most aspects of language .
Some of these kids just did better and better, particularly those who had received intensive treatment starting at an early age, says Fein, a professor of psychology at the University of Connecticut.
Now, Fein and others are discovering more about this phenomenon: How might these young people lose the diagnosis? Do they continue to be symptom-free over time? The answers are of keen interest not just to researchers but also to parents who wish the same for their own children.