Sometimes an article is published that you read and think “did anyone actually research this properly?” and “oh dear, this really isn’t going to help”.
“While not conclusive, the study, in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, suggests some children might possibly outgrow autism.
But experts urge caution.
Much more work is needed to find out what might explain the findings.
Dr Deborah Fein and her team at the University of Connecticut studied 34 children who had been diagnosed with autism in early childhood but went on to function as well as 34 other children in their classes at school.
“Although the diagnosis of autism is not usually lost over time, the findings suggest that there is a very wide range of possible outcomes”
Dr Thomas Insel
Director of the National Institute of Mental Health
On tests – cognitive and observational, as well as reports from the children’s parents and school – they were indistinguishable from their classroom peers. They now showed no sign of problems with language, face recognition, communication or social interaction.”
As the parent of one (possible two) child(ren) on the – extremely wide – spectrum, this article concerns me. Again, this is people trying to “cure” autism. I wonder if its motives are monetary.
My daughter is in a special needs school, with a statement, because she needs to be. She could not cope with elements of mainstream school – the sheer number of children in class with its associated sensory overload, the class itself (she did most of her work at a desk in the corridor) and the play times – children running past her, shrieking, playing, doing what NT children do in a playground. She could not access the curriculum at all at times – despite a full-time TA allocation – and this meant that emotionally, mentally and socially she was further and further back from her peers.
I used to childmind a girl in D’s class and the differences between their levels were extremely vast, and not just the obvious. Occasionally the girl would do homework at my house and hers set was many levels above D, it used to make me feel very sad for D. It was an immense relief when she was statemented and we had the choice of a special needs school for her.
That was the best decision ever. It was a hard decision to make, Hubbie and I had to look beyond her immediate needs and consider long-term. Did we want her to be in an environment where she would ultimately get GCSE qualifications, but would she be physically and emotionally able to access mainstream? Or did we want her to be happier in a more autism-friendly environment, not necessarily leading to qualifications but gaining life skills? It was a no-brainer really, we had to consider D’s happiness.
And she is happy, on the whole. There are days when she doesn’t want to go into school, there are days when I pick her up and she’s absolutely furious that, many hours before, someone had brushed past her lightly and it hurt her and she’ll store up that emotion she felt at the time (hurt, anger and frustration) and let me have it! Sometimes physically.
So, does this mean she has “outgrown autism” or will in the future?
No. She is coping. Smaller class sizes, a higher ratio of staff to children and a very (on the whole) low sensory environment have meant that she copes. Brilliantly enough at times to participate in a school play (whereas in mainstream she wouldn’t even manage to go into the hall, let alone perform).
Contrast that happy, confident girl at her school performance in December (click here to read) to when we’re in town shopping. The sheer volume of people bustling past, the music blaring out from the shops, the smells etc and she is an extremely anxious child, she is overloaded sensory-wise. Something I tried so hard to explain in my meeting this week, something that just wasn’t being taken in.
I am so proud of her every day, but I worry for the future. Worry that articles with their inflammatory headlines do not help recognise that autism is a life-long condition.
Thanks for reading Jx 😘
I found a thread on Mumsnet which was interesting regarding this topic, to view it click here.