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Can a Child Recover from Autism?

Learn if a child can recover from autism from pediatrician and child development expert Asma J. Sadiq, M.D. in this Howcast video.


So a commonly asked question is, "Can my child recover from autism?" And I think we need to look at the symptoms, because this is a symptom based diagnosis. A child has communication issues or has speech and language delay or has repetitive, restricted behaviors and play. These are the symptoms that give you a diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder. And this is a symptom based diagnosis. So as we work with those symptoms, a child who didn't speak develops more language or is able to communicate and can engage in back and forth play and communication is able to adjust better and is more flexible with routine, in some ways is recovering.

So there is recovery, there is improvement, there's treatment. A lot of parents feel, "My child is recovered," because they've been mainstreamed, or what the concern was is no longer a concern. Is that considered recovery? I guess to a degree absolutely from a parental point of view. From a medical point of view looking more at the subtle genetic, biomedical issues, there can be some other areas that remain of concern and I would be vigilant on that. How much the child gets normalized is a matter of degree and function based on the level that the child was impaired by. There is recovery on a gradient, for sure I would say for all children. There is going to be improvement and recovery from some of the symptoms they had.

Hopefully they will no longer hit diagnostic criteria but that is a judgment or decision that is done both educationally as well as by physicians who have to look at the overall holistic approach of that child. Whether they still have some obsessive tendencies for example, or have some difficulty with social referencing and maintaining friendships, much that they have been mainstreamed, and much that they have recovered from the initial diagnostic criteria if one looked at them very simplistically or if it just being speech delay or social engagement, etcetera.

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