Is it possible for children to outgrow autism?

Autism has always been considered a lifelong diagnosis, but a new study might just refute that claim.

According to a study published recently in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, some young children who were diagnosed as autistic might outgrow both their symptoms and their diagnosis as they get older. The study, funded by the National Institutes of Health included children, teens, and young adults who were diagnosed as autistic as children but then moved off the autism spectrum as they grew older.  

For the study, Dr. Deborah Fein from the University of Connecticut and her research team evaluated 34 children who had been diagnosed with autism in early childhood as well as 34 other children in their classes at school. These children were then compared with another group of 44 children who were the same age and sex and had the same non-verbal IQ scores but were diagnosed as having "high-functioning" autism, in other words, they were less severely affected by their condition.

Using both cognitive and observation tests, researchers found that children who were originally diagnosed as autistic no longer had distinguishable symptoms of the condition. These children showed no sign of problems with language, face recognition, communication or social interaction.

So, did these children outgrow autism? It's possible, but researchers urge caution when interpreting these results. Another possibility is that the children had learned how to expertly compensate for their autistic symptoms.

In either case, it's potentially good news for children who are diagnosed with autism, and the families who love them.

Related post on MNN: Why this trip to Disneyland with our autistic kids really matters

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