The Children Who Leave Autism Behind
Autism is usually thought to be a lifelong condition, but a small number of children lose the core symptoms and shed the diagnosis. Some researchers are beginning to explore how common this may be, and why some children outgrow autism.
Alex, aged 10, bounds onto his bed to pose with his Aaron Rodgers poster, grinning as proudly as if he had recruited the Green Bay Packers quarterback himself. Continuing the tour of his suburban New York bedroom, he points out his Packers-themed alarm clock, his soccer trophy, his Boy Scout trophy and then the big reveal: a homemade foam box in Packers green and gold.
Mmm, very nice, I say. Alex grins part shy, part sly as he turns it around to show me the message on the back: Jets stink.
Even though he seems to be an entirely ordinary boy, theres something unusual about Alex: He once had autism, and now he does not. There was a time when Alexs parents didnt know if he would ever speak in full sentences, let alone joke around with a stranger. His autism, they suspected, might prevent any such future.
Alexs parents began to worry about him before he was even 1 year old. He wasnt learning to sit, crawl or stand as his fraternal twin brother was. Even more striking was how much less social he was compared with his brother.
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.
Repetitive Behaviors And Motor Movements
Some children with autism spectrum disorder may flap their hands or rock back and forth, repeat lines from books or movies, or have strong or muted reactions to sensory stimuli . They may have a particular interest or hobby that is unusually intense compared to those of other children their age. Children with ASD may insist on certain routines or patterns in everyday life or want to play with toys in atypical ways .
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Help For Parents Of Children With Autism
If you have a child with autism, it is important to get support. The day-to-day care of children with autism can be stressful. Making sure your child get the help they need can also pose a challenge, depending on whether quality support services are available in your area. At the same time, you are likely to have ongoing worries about your child’s prognosis and long-term well being. For all these reasons, you need to take care of yourself, as well as your child. Make an effort to reach out and find the support you need.
What Disorders Are Related To Asd
Certain known genetic disorders are associated with an increased risk for autism, including Fragile X syndrome and tuberous sclerosis each of which results from a mutation in a single, but different, gene. Recently, researchers have discovered other genetic mutations in children diagnosed with autism, including some that have not yet been designated as named syndromes. While each of these disorders is rare, in aggregate, they may account for 20 percent or more of all autism cases.
People with ASD also have a higher than average risk of having epilepsy. Children whose language skills regress early in life before age 3 appear to have a risk of developing epilepsy or seizure-like brain activity. About 20 to 30 percent of children with ASD develop epilepsy by the time they reach adulthood. Additionally, people with both ASD and intellectual disability have the greatest risk of developing seizure disorder.
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Tip : Create A Personalized Autism Treatment Plan
With so many different treatments available, it can be tough to figure out which approach is right for your child. Making things more complicated, you may hear different or even conflicting recommendations from parents, teachers, and doctors.
When putting together a treatment plan for your child, keep in mind that there is no single treatment that works for everyone. Each person on the autism spectrum is unique, with different strengths and weaknesses.
Your childs treatment should be tailored according to their individual needs. You know your child best, so its up to you to make sure those needs are being met. You can do that by asking yourself the following questions:
What are my childs strengths and their weaknesses?
What behaviors are causing the most problems? What important skills is my child lacking?
How does my child learn best through seeing, listening, or doing?
What does my child enjoy and how can those activities be used in treatment and to bolster learning?
Finally, keep in mind that no matter what treatment plan is chosen, your involvement is vital to success. You can help your child get the most out of treatment by working hand-in-hand with the treatment team and following through with the therapy at home.
If You Have Endometriosis
What’s your experience with endometriosis?
Did your doctor’s ignore your pain too?
This content is accurate and true to the best of the authors knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
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Severe Consequences For Ignoring Endometriosis
A new surgeon and another operation discovered extensive diffuse adenomyosisthe rogue endometrial cells had buried themselves deep into the uterus muscle wall.
Such adenomyosis is only treatable with a hysterectomy, but I was only 26, far too young.
In addition to severe pain, adenomyosis causes infertility, high rates of miscarriage and birth defects due to the damaged muscle and an impaired blood supply.Had doctors discovered and removed the endometriosis before it got so extreme, the adenomyosis would not have developed.
I had to cope with chronic, severe pain and undergo two more endometriosis-removal operations before I was allowed to have a hysterectomy at age 38. They still wouldn’t take my ovaries out, because I am too young.
I am now unable to have children, because my period pain was ignored by doctors.
What Are Autism Spectrum Disorders
Autism spectrum disorder is a complex neurological and developmental condition that usually appears during the first three years of life. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and vary with each individual. For instance, some children may rarely use words to communicate, while others may hold extensive conversations and use rich language. Some children may not like to be hugged or touched, while others seek out and enjoy physical touch.
ASD can express itself in different ways, but it’s characterized by difficulties with social communication and unusual or repetitive interests and behaviors. Children with mild ASD can have a hard time learning social skills that come easily to other children, such as making eye contact, having back-and-forth conversations, coordinating language with nonverbal communication, or learning through social imitation. Children with severe ASD seem to inhabit their own world a world that can sometimes seem closed off to relatives and friends.
One in 88 children in the United States has autism spectrum disorder , including 1 in 54 boys. That makes autism the fastest-growing developmental disability in this country.
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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.
Could My Child Outgrow Autism
From time to time, stories emerge of individuals who appear to have simply “outgrown” or overcome an early diagnosis of autism. These stories usually relate to one or another therapeutic approachABA, Floortime, a change in diet, or some other technique for improving autistic symptoms. Is it really possible for a person to be accurately diagnosed with autism as a young child and then “grow out of” the diagnosis?
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Facts And Myths About Autism Spectrum Disorders
Children with autism never make eye contact.Many children with autism establish eye contact. It may be less than or different from the typical child, but they do look at people, smile, and express many other wonderful non-verbal communications.
Children with autism do not talk.Many children with autism develop good functional language. Most other children can develop some communication skills, such as sign language, use of pictures, computers, or electronic devices.
Children with autism cannot show affection.Probably one of the most devastating myths for families is the misconception that children with autism cannot give and receive affection and love. We know that sensory stimulation is processed differently by some children with autism, causing them to have difficulty expressing affection in conventional ways. Giving and receiving love from a child with autism may require a willingness to accept and give love on the childs terms. Sometimes the challenge for parents is waiting until the child can risk a greater connection. Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends may not understand a childs aloofness, but can learn to appreciate and respect his/her capacity for connection with others.
Children and adults with autism spectrum disorders do not care about others.Children and adults with an ASD often care deeply but lack the ability to spontaneously develop empathic and socially connected typical behavior.
Autism Improves In Adulthood
Not every adult with autism gets better. Some — especially those with mental retardation — may get worse. Many remain stable. But even with severe autism, most teens and adults see improvement over time, find Paul T. Shattuck, PhD, Marsha Mailick Seltzer, PhD, and colleagues at the University of Wisconsin.
Shattuck, Seltzer, and colleagues followed 241 adolescents and adults, ranging in age from 10 to 52, for nearly five years. They used standardized tests to measure their autistic symptoms and maladaptive behaviors.
“For any individual symptom, and there are three dozen or so we looked at, there is always a very small group of people who got worse, a modest group in the middle who were stable, and a majority who showed improvement,” Shattuck tells WebMD. “Generally speaking, people who are improving in one area are improving across the board.”
Those most likely to improve were those without mental retardation with some degree of language competence.
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Can Children Outgrow Autism
A study recently published in the Journal of Child Neurology suggests that children may outgrow autism. We spoke to Dr. J. Thomas Megerian, pediatric neurologist and clinical director of the Thompson Autism Center at CHOC, about what parents should know about these findings.
What does this studys findings mean for parents?What does life look like for a child previously diagnosed with autism who is no longer on the spectrum?
Learning disabilities, obsessive compulsive disorder, and attention deficit disorder are common among children with ASD. Rates of other disorders are common among children with autism, including: gastrointestinal disorders, ear infections, seizures and anxiety. They may clear up later in life or become better managed, but they dont necessarily go away at the same time as their autism label.Residual symptoms of these co-occurring diagnoses may last into adulthood. For example, a child may outgrow their ASD label but still have anxiety that can be managed by cognitive behavioral therapy.
Why is early detection and early intervention of autism so important?
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Why Are Rates Higher Among Children
There are a number of reasons why the prevalence of autism is higher among school-aged children than adults, starting with the measurement.
Prevalence refers to the rate of diagnosis and/or self-reports, not the rate of actually having autism. As autism is a lifelong condition, its more likely the rates of actually having autism are stable across adults and children.
Diagnostic techniques and awareness of autism have improved dramatically in recent times. Many autistic adults would not have been given a formal diagnosis, but rather misdiagnosed or just seen as weird.
These days, there are clear benefits of having and reporting a diagnosis for school-aged children including access to funding and educational support. This means parents who suspect their child has autism may seek out a diagnosis when in previous generations they would not.
There are far fewer benefits to having and reporting a diagnosis for adults, and many more barriers, including stigma and discrimination.
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Children Diagnosed Earlier More Likely To Lose Label
Researchers may not be able to say exactly what causes a lost diagnosis in each case, but many point out that the children who are diagnosed and treated early tend to improve the most.
“Research tells us the earlier a child with ASD is identified and connected to services, the better,” Dr. Wiggins said. “The results of our study support this claim in that children diagnosed with ASD at 30 months or younger were more likely to have a change in classification from ASD to non-ASD than children diagnosed with an ASD at 31 months or older.”
“It is therefore important for every parent to track their child’s development and act quickly if there is a concern. CDC has checklists to help parents track their child’s development. They are free and you can find them at www.cdc.gov/milestones. If parents have a concern about their childs development they should immediately talk to their healthcare provider about those concerns, she said.
Under the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines, your childs doctor should perform regular developmental surveillance at well-child visits, with screenings at 9, 18, and 30 months, and screenings for autism at the 18-month and 24-month check-ups. U.S. child care centers should screen children as well.
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Study Shows That Many Nonverbal Autistic Children Overcome Severe Language Delays
Hopeful news for families study counters belief that nonverbal children wont acquire speech after age 4
Many parents of children with autism have been told that if their child isnt speaking by age 4 or 5, he or she isnt likely to ever do so. Some researchers have countered this view citing cases of children who developed language during grade-school, or even adolescence. Today, a study of more than 500 children confirms those promising reports. It appears online in the journal Pediatrics.
Scientists at the Center for Autism and Related Disorders, in Baltimore, looked at information on 535 children, ages 8 to 17, diagnosed with autism and with severe language delays at age 4. At age 4, their language delays ranged from not speaking at all to using single words or phrases without verbs.
The researchers found that, in fact, most of these children did go on to acquire language skills. Nearly half became fluent speakers. Over two-thirds could speak in simple phrases.
The researchers also wanted to see what factors might predict whether a severely language-delayed child with autism would eventually develop speech. They found that most of the children who did so had higher IQs and lower social impairment. Somewhat surprisingly, the researchers found a childs level of repetitive behaviors and restricted interests did not affect the likelihood of language development.
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How Common Is Autism Spectrum Disorder
Based on most recent CDC report, ASD is estimated to affect about 1 in 54 children, with boys being more likely to have ASD than girls. There were more than 5 million adults in the US, or 2.21% of the population, with ASD as of 2017. Government statistics suggest that the prevalence of ASD has risen 10% to 17% in recent years.
Are Siblings At Greater Risk For Autism Spectrum Disorder
The truth is that genetics do play a role in autism. When one child is diagnosed with ASD, the next child to come along has about a 20% greater risk of developing autism than normal. When the first two children in a family have both been diagnosed with ASD, the third child has about a 32% greater risk of developing ASD.
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