Autism spectrum disorder

Research in the past several years shows that children can outgrow a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD); once considered a lifelong condition. In a new study, researchers at Albert Einstein have found that the vast majority of such children still have difficulties; that require therapeutic and educational support. “It’s certainly encouraging to confirm that a subset of children with early ASD diagnosis accompanied by developmental delays can, in essence, recover from the disorder and go on to have typical social and cognitive functioning.

Emotional and behavioral problems

“But by and large, these children continue to struggle with daily life. Almost all of them still have to contend with language and learning disabilities and a variety of emotional and behavioral problems.” In the study, Dr. Shulman and her colleagues reviewed clinical records of 569 patients who diagnosed with ASD; between 2003 and 2013 at CERC, a university-affiliated early intervention program in the Bronx for children with developmental disabilities.
Their mean age was 2½ years at initial diagnosis and 6½ years at follow up. The vast majority had received early intervention services, a mix of speech and occupational therapies, special instruction; applied behavioral analysis (the main evidence-based treatment for ASD). At follow-up, 38 children (7 % of the original 569 patients) no longer met the diagnostic criteria for ASD.

Language or learning disabilities

Of these 38 children, 68 % diagnosed with language or learning disabilities; 49 % with externalizing behavior problems (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, or disruptive behavior disorder); 24 % with internalizing behavior problems (mood disorder, anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or selective mutism); and 5 percent with a significant mental health diagnosis (psychotic disorder not otherwise specified).