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Some with Autism Diagnosis Overcome Symptoms in Study
By Benedict Carey
Doctors have long believed that disabling autistic disorders last a lifetime, but a new study has found that some children who exhibit signature symptoms of the disorder recover completely.
The study, posted online Wednesday, Jan. 16, by the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, is the largest to date of such extraordinary cases and is likely to alter the way scientists and parents think and talk about autism, experts said.
Researchers cautioned against false hope. The findings suggest the so-called autism spectrum contains a small but significant group who make big improvements in behavioral therapy for unknown, perhaps biological reasons, but that most children show much smaller gains. Doctors have no way to predict which children will do well.
Researchers have long known that between 1 and 20 percent of children given an autism diagnosis no longer qualify for one a few years or more later. They have suspected that in most cases, the diagnosis was mistaken. The new study should put some of that skepticism to rest.
"This is the first solid science to address this question of possible recovery, and I think it has big implications," said Sally Ozonoff of the MIND Institute at the University of California, Davis, who was not involved in the research. "I know many of us as would rather have had our tooth pulled than use the word 'recover,' it was so unscientific. Now we can use it, though I think we need to stress that it's rare." .......
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