The label of autism may not be a lifelong one, a new U.S study of 112 children claims, and it may be possible for children diagnosed with the disorder from a young age to develop cognitive and social skills that are on par with their healthy peers.
Experts caution, though, that it’s not clear yet whether children “outgrow” the condition, or whether a certain course of treatment and/or other factors engenders the heretofore unseen recovery.
Asperger’s syndrome to be dropped from mental disorders manual (DSM-5)
The study, published Wednesday in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, says that the breakthroughs that were previously not thought possible were observed in 34 of the children studied, who’d been diagnosed with ASD (autism spectrum disorders) from a young age. These children were indistinguishable from their classroom peers on cognitive and behavioural tests, as well as in classroom settings observed by parents and teachers. On tests, they showed no sign of problems with social interaction, and so were considered to be “optimal outcome” patients by the researchers.
Dr. Deborah Fein, of the department of psychology at the University of Connecticut, led the study, which acknowledged at its outset that “autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are generally regarded as lifelong conditions, affecting communication, relationships, adaptive skills, academic and vocational attainment.” In general, treatment that attains “social and communicative function that is within normal limits is not generally considered a realistic goal.”