Can Children Outgrow Autism? New Study Suggests They Can

First Posted: Jan 16, 2013 12:02 PM EST

If your child has autism, he may not necessarily have the condition for the rest of his life. New findings published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry found that some children who were accurately diagnosed with autism lost their symptoms as they aged.

During the study, Dr. Deborah Fein and her colleagues at the University of Connecticut studied 34 children who had been previously diagnosed with autism. They found that the children functioned just as well as their peers in school, and were indistinguishable on cognitive and observational tests.

The researchers urge caution, though. The children who no longer had recognizable signs of autism had all been in the high-functioning autism group in early childhood.

There are several answers for the researchers' findings. It's possible that the children merely "grew out" of autism, or that they developed coping methods to deal with autism-related difficulties. An original, false diagnosis was also a possibility, though the researchers went back to check the accuracy of each.

The study raises questions on the ways to diagnose and recognize autism. In the past, high functioning people with autism were not always diagnosed with the disorder since they had developed coping methods. Currently, The American Psychiatric Association is revising its diagnostic manual, the tool that doctors use to diagnose every psychiatric disorder. It is possible that the ways to recognize and diagnose autism may change.

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