He’ll Just Out Grow It

I always hear my parents talking to doctors who constantly say, “He’ll grow out of it.” My parents say that my brother will eventually mature and therefore he will better utilize the skills to improve his quality of life.

Some studies have found that children who were diagnosed with autism as a toddler may not have symptoms of the disorder two decades later. A study reported by the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, found that 9% of the sample group improved in their autism symptoms almost to the point where they no longer met the diagnostic criteria for autism. An additional 28% of the group retained characteristics of ASD like impaired social functioning but doing well in other areas like cognitive functioning. Dr. Catherine Lord, the founding director of the Center for Autism and the Developing Brain, proposed that children who outgrew their diagnosis were most likely to have engaged in treatment or interventions to minimize social dysfunction, and had a substantial reduction in repetitive behaviors between ages 2 and 3. Dr. Lord concluded that the, “possibility of greater initial flexibility in brain development and receptivity to environmental stimuli in some children diagnosed with ASD, which then potentially accelerates cognitive growth and behavioral improvements over time.”

On the other hand, according to the DSM, it is impossible to “out grow” autism. The DSM states that autistic symptoms start early in a child’s life and continue throughout their life. It also states that adults still may have the disorder but are better at hiding their symptoms. To connect with Dr. Lord’s comments, children can improve over time with therapies and maturity. According to an article in Very Well Health, the author Rudy writes,  “The reality, however, is that most children who appear to be ‘cured of autism’ have either been cured of some physical problem which caused autism-like symptoms or learned coping techniques and behaviors that effectively mask their autism symptoms.” Early diagnosis and treatment help children in the future due to improvements in socialization and repetitive behavior.

I read one article about a 10-year-old boy, Alex. In the article, the author writes, “There was a time when Alex’s parents didn’t 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.” Alex’s doctor suspected autism and urged early intervention. Alex began to engage in an intensive program of behavioral therapy and eventually made it to a therapeutic preschool and elementary school and, ultimately, to a regular classroom. Overall, most children with autism will always have the disorder, however, recent studies have shown that many children, like Alex, over time have less functioning of the core symptoms necessary for an autism diagnosis.

Citations:

Bailey, Eileen. “The Most Commonly Misdiagnosed Symptoms of Autism in Adults.” ADDitude, 4 Mar. 2021, http://www.additudemag.com/autism-spectrum-symptoms-adults/. Accessed 11 Oct. 2021.

“Can Children Outgrow Autism?” CHOC, 12 June 2019. CHOC, health.choc.org/can-children-outgrow-autism/. Accessed 11 Oct. 2021.

Carpenter, Siri. “The Children Who Leave Autism Behind.” Spectrum News, Sept. 2015. Spectrum, http://www.spectrumnews.org/features/deep-dive/children-who-leave-autism-behind/. Accessed 11 Oct. 2021.

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