[Note: Shared for #AutisticHistory archive purposes. This is NOT An Autistic Ally.]
Study Finds Some Children Diagnosed With Autism As Toddlers Have No Symptoms Two Decades Later
AUGUST 4, 2014
Dr. Catherine Lord, founding director of the Center for Autism and the Developing Brain. Image: John Abbott
It is possible to recover from autism, say researchers from Weill Cornell Medical College and the University of Denver, who followed 85 children from the time they were diagnosed as toddlers until they were in their late teens.
Their study, reported online May 30 in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, finds that 9 percent of the group improved to the point that they no longer met the diagnostic criteria for autism. Another 28 percent retained features of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), such as impaired social functioning, but were doing very well in several areas, particularly cognitive and academic functioning, the researchers report. Many in both groups were enrolled in college.
“This rate of improvement is much higher than has been reported before, and that fact offers some very good news,” says the study’s senior investigator, Dr. Catherine Lord, founding director of the Center for Autism and the Developing Brain, a collaboration between Weill Cornell Medical College, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, and Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.
The children who recovered from autism were not misdiagnosed with the disorder as toddlers, Dr. Lord says. At the time of their diagnoses, these children exhibited telltale ASD symptoms such as repetitive behaviors and social dysfunction.
The majority of the mostly male study population, however, did not substantially outgrow their symptoms over the 17 years scientists followed them. In fact, the researchers predicted, with 85 percent success, poorer outcome in this group when the 2-year-olds were first tested. The tests they used were based on cognitive tests, including nonverbal IQs. The most powerful predictor at age 2 for poor outcome was a nonverbal IQ score of less than 70, the researchers say.
“But there is good news in this group, as well: Even children who clearly have significant language disability can become more independent and can continue to make progress in their teens and as young adults if people give them the opportunity to do so,” says Dr. Lord, who is also the DeWitt Wallace Senior Scholar and a professor of psychology in psychiatry and in pediatrics at Weill Cornell.
Although the study was not designed to look at interventions for the children & the majority of the young children received help but the treatment each child received varied — Dr. Lord said a mixture of intervention and family support and assistance was invaluable to them.
For example, she says that youths who outgrew their diagnosis were more likely to have participated in treatment, such as interventions to reduce social dysfunction, and had a greater reduction in repetitive behaviors between ages 2 and 3. Their IQs also increased dramatically during that year.
This suggests 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,” Dr. Lord says.
The study is the first to follow a large number of children from age 2 over two decades. Although diagnosis at that age is common today, it wasn’t when her study began, Dr. Lord says. “The families included in this research are quite special, because they knew pretty early that something was wrong with their children, and they sought help and were willing to get involved.”
They did the right thing, she adds.
“It is not a good idea for parents of very young children to wait and hope that signs of autism will just go away,” she says. “Doing something for the child — getting a youngster involved in activities, starting treatments, beginning preschool or other social activities — seemed to be related to better outcomes in the children that we have followed.”
The study provides a road map, of sorts, for following the path of young children diagnosed with ASD, Dr. Lord adds. “We can use our findings to monitor the trajectories of these children — how they are changing in cognitive skills, language, social skills, repetitive behavior, hyperactivity and so on,” she says. “Then we can build on the success we see in each child, and perhaps suggest interventions for behaviors that have not improved. For example, we noted that children who did best were the kids that did not seem to be hyperactive — so this may be an area that can be targeted.”
Dr. Lord has published about 40 research studies on these children to date.
“The children were so young when we met them. We have spent much time with them, and now we really want to know how they are doing out on their own, whether they were in college or not,” she says.
Study co-authors include Dr. Deborah K. Anderson from Weill Cornell Medical College (now at the University of Michigan) and Jessie W. Liang from the University of Denver.
This work was supported by grants from the National Institute of Mental Health (MH081873), the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (U 19 HD 035482), and Autism Speaks. Dr. Lord was involved in the development of some of the instruments used in the research and receives royalty income from Western Psychological Services from the sale of those instruments
More With Catherine Lord
Autistic people have fought the inclusion of ABA in therapy for us since before Autism Speaks, and other non-Autistic-led autism organizations, started lobbying legislation to get it covered by insurances and Medicaid.
ABA is a myth originally sold to parents that it would keep their Autistic child out of an institution. Today, parents are told that with early intervention therapy their child will either be less Autistic or no longer Autistic by elementary school, and can be mainstreamed in typical education classes. ABA is very expensive to pay out of pocket. Essentially, Autism Speaks has justified the big price tag up front will offset the overall burden on resources for an Autistic’s lifetime. The recommendation for this therapy is 40 hours a week for children and toddlers.
The original study that showed the success rate of ABA to be at 50% has never been replicated. In fact, the study of ABA by United States Department of Defense was denounced as a failure. Not just once, but multiple times. Simply stated: ABA doesn’t work. In study after repeated study: ABA (conversion therapy) doesn’t work.
What more recent studies do show: Autistics who experienced ABA therapy are at high risk to develop PTSD and other lifelong trauma-related conditions. Historically, the autism organizations promoting ABA as a cure or solution have silenced Autistic advocates’ opposition. ABA is also known as gay conversion therapy.
The ‘cure’ for Autistics not born yet is the prevention of birth.
The ‘cure’ is a choice to terminate a pregnancy based on ‘autism risk.’ The cure is abortion. This is the same ‘cure’ society has for Down Syndrome.
This is eugenics 2021. Instead of killing Autistics and disabled children in gas chambers or ‘mercy killings’ like in Aktion T4, it’ll happen at the doctor’s office, quietly, one Autistic baby at a time. Different approaches yes, but still eugenics and the extinction of an entire minority group of people.
Fact: You can’t cure Autistics from being Autistic.
Fact: You can’t recover an Autistic from being Autistic.
Fact: You can groom an Autistic to mask and hide their traits. Somewhat. … however, this comes at the expense of the Autistic child, promotes Autistic Burnout (this should not be confused with typical burnout, Autistic Burnout can kill Autistics), and places the Autistic child at high risk for PTSD and other lifelong trauma-related conditions.
[Note: Autism is NOT a disease, but a neurodevelopmental difference and disability.]
Fact: Vaccines Do Not Cause Autism.