I just read an on-line Time Magazine article called, “Autism: Why Some Children ‘Bloom’ and Overcome Their Disabilities”. The article describes how some autistic children “outgrow” their diagnosis by the time they reach their teens. What a load of crap—not to put too fine a point on it. The author goes on to say the prognosis is best for children of educated and more affluent parents. Gee, I wonder why that is? Maybe because higher income families can afford the years of intensive therapy required for these children to “bloom”.
Articles like this are very misleading to the general public, who don’t live with autism day to day, and have the impression those of us with children on the spectrum just want to “label” our children, or have a desire to diagnose our children’s quirks, which they will outgrow, if we only give it time. My only answer to that is autism is a spectrum, and if you have enough (and very specific) “quirks” you have some form of autism. It might seem I’m being glib here, but the reason my children were diagnosed with forms of autism (by medical professionals, I might add) is not because of their quirks, but more for their deficits. Odd mannerisms do frequently go along with an autism diagnosis, but trust me when I say there are a lot of other reasons my children have been identified as being on the autism spectrum. The child you see for a few hours from time-to-time is not necessarily the child I live with.
One good point the article made, however, is the importance of early intervention in autism. Young children have very malleable brains and the course of autism can be significantly affected for the better. Ryan has been receiving services since he was 20 months old, and I believe that is the reason he has not yet developed stims (repetitive behaviors) as coping mechanisms. He is also no longer terrified of strangers. Someone not familiar to him used to send him into panicked screams. Now when people come to our home, he runs to hug them.
Ryan’s autism is severe, even if he doesn’t “look autistic”. Still, I believe he will surprise us all and bloom one day. I’ll bet on it…