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January 25, 2013

Can Children Lose An Autism Diagnosis?

Written by Dr. John Carosso

Been saying for years...

I’ve been espousing for years that children with mild autism can demonstrate substantial progress and, in a few years, no longer meet diagnostic criteria for the diagnosis.

Now some back-up

New research findings in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry looked at 34 children who were diagnosed with autism but later in life functioned as well as their neuro-typical age-mates.

Inaccurate initial diagnosis?

Nope; the researchers found that, in fact, the initial autism diagnosis was accurate.

Common occurrence?

Entirely losing the diagnosis may not be commonplace, but it’s more common than some practitioners believe, and more common than parents are typically told. In fact, a 2007 study in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders also found that symptoms of autism tend to improve over time. The reasons why some children’s symptoms subside is not entirely clear. It would seem that early intervention is vital, as well as treatment that is intensive, comprehensive, and implemented by competent practitioners. However, ultimately, as was explained by Dr. Insel, the Director of the National Institute of Mental Health, which funded the study, “Although the diagnosis of autism is not usually lost over time, the findings suggest that there is a very wide range of possible outcomes.” That reality, and hope, is what I, and the parents with whom I work, hang our hats on.

My experience

I too have found kiddos with mild signs of autism respond very favorably to treatment and can be indistinguishable from age-mates after a few years. Moreover, even in the case of more severe symptoms, ongoing progress is the norm and justifies intensive support and treatment.

Keep on fighting for your child’s treatment, and expect progress

Given all these realities and factors, it’s vital to never give-up the fight against those entities that interfere with children receiving all they need to reach their fullest potential. Fight to keep your child’s services; ensure your child’s treatment staff is experienced and competent, and keep an open mind to alternative treatment options. Feel free to contact me at to review your child’s treatment and to ask any subsequent questions. I hope you found this post to be helpful and heartening. God bless.

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