Why is it that some children with autism “get better,” while others continue to struggle with their symptoms? Early intervention and therapy involving learning proper social and communication skills are essential to reducing the prevalence of autism symptoms.
Is it possible for your child to “grow out” of their autism symptoms by their teenage years? A recent study suggests that some children with autism are late “bloomers,” and even those with severe autism show signs of improvement. This study followed nearly 7,000 children with autism born in California between 1992 and 2001, and results show that 63 percent of the children did not have intellectual disabilities.
The severity of the autism symptoms, of course, does play a role in a child’s functioning throughout life. Those individuals with “high-functioning autism” do tend to act better over time than those with severe autism. The study’s results show that while a majority of the best improvements occurred for those children with high-functioning autism, nearly 10 percent of those children with a low-functioning diagnosis made their way to a higher level by age 14.
Autism has been thought for many years to affect intellectual development, but this study suggests that cognitive deficits do not have to be a part of autism symptoms — many children often excel in a particular area, and others have very high IQs. Autism symptoms of trouble talking, interacting with others, and making friends with peers, however, do tend to impact many individuals with autism. Those children with high-functioning autism can communicate effectively with others and maintain friendships, but it is often early intervention and therapy that play roles in improving this functioning.
This recent study does indicate that educated parents with access to treatment improved their children’s autism symptoms, which leads to the conclusion that parents of low income might not have proper access to treatment. The researchers also highlight the importance of early intervention — if children with autism receive care before their brains are hard-wired for social withdrawal or repetitive behaviors, their abilities and gifts will be able to blossom.
While it is often a great burden, parents need to be advocates for their children. Seeking out care and continuing care in home as well as the school and doctors’ offices is an important step to helping children with autism improve. This study, published in Pediatrics, helps promote a sense of hope for families of children with autism.
April 3, 2012
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