TUESDAY, Jan. 15 (HealthDay News) -- Some children who are diagnosed with autism at an early age will ultimately shed all signs and symptoms of the disorder as they enter adolescence or young adulthood, a new analysis contends.
Whether that happens because of aggressive interventions or whether it boils down to biology and genetics is still unclear, the researchers noted, although experts suspect it is most likely a combination of the two.
The finding stems from a methodical analysis of 34 children who were deemed "normal" at the study's start, despite having been diagnosed with autism before the age of 5.
"Generally, autism is looked at as a lifelong disorder," said study author Deborah Fein, a professor in the departments of psychology and pediatrics at the University of Connecticut. "The point of this work was really to demonstrate and document this phenomenon, in which some children can move off the autism spectrum and really go on to function like normal adolescents in all areas, and end up mainstreamed in regular classrooms with no one-on-one support.
"Although we don't know exactly what percent of these kids are capable of this kind of amazing outcome, we do know it's a minority," she added. "We're certainly talking about less than 25 percent of those diagnosed with autism at an early age.
"Certainly all autistic children can get better and grow with good therapy," Fein said. "But this is not just about good therapy. I've seen thousands of kids who have great therapy but don't reach this result. It's very, very important that parents who don't see this outcome not feel as if they did something wrong."
Fein and her colleagues reported the findings of their study, which was supported by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, in the Jan. 15 issue of the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.
The 34 individuals previously diagnosed with aut
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