In this episode, we dive into the intriguing question of whether toddlers with autism can lose or outgrow their diagnosis. Recent research suggests that nearly 40% of diagnosed toddlers could indeed lose their diagnosis. We review a groundbreaking study published in October 2023, titled “Persistence of Autism Spectrum Disorder from Early Childhood through School Age.” I stumbled upon this article on TikTok, one of the social media platforms I am active on. My goal is to spread information and support parents and professionals dealing with autism.
- Can toddlers with autism lose or outgrow their diagnosis? (Research suggests 40% can)
- The impact adaptive skills have on persistent ASD
- Details of a new study surrounding outgrowing autism diagnosis
- Controversy around autism recovery and improvements
- Importance of early intervention
I will briefly discuss previous studies on autism recovery and becoming indistinguishable, which are covered in my books. It is not a black and white issue but more of a gray area as it may involve masking and ongoing anxiety or learning disabilities. Understanding and exploring the potential for toddlers with autism to lose their diagnosis is crucial. In a recent podcast discussion, we address the lack of comprehensive research on the percentage of individuals who outgrow autism. Existing studies vary from 4% to 47%, but these numbers are based on older studies that included children who didn’t fully meet the diagnostic criteria. Additionally, COVID disrupted ongoing research.
However, a new study offers promising insights. Conducted during and after COVID, the study focused on children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and found that a small percentage no longer met the diagnostic criteria between ages five and seven. It’s important to note that early diagnoses, especially those involving PDDNOS, were historically less stable. The study specifically included 213 children who met the DSM criteria for ASD.
Further research is needed to understand the long-term outcomes for individuals with autism who experience improvements or changes in their symptoms. The researcher conducted a study on 213 children, who had undergone diagnostic assessments at ages 12 to 36 months using various tools. Follow-up assessments were conducted when the children were between 5 and 7 years old. Out of the 213 children, 37.1% no longer met the diagnostic criteria for ASD, referred to as non-persistent ASD.
These children all had IQs above 70. On the other hand, among those with persistent ASD, 46 had IQs below 70 and an intellectual disability, while 88 had IQs above 70. All the children received some form of intervention, with 94.4% receiving ASD-specific treatments like applied behavior analysis (ABA). The study found that females had better outcomes, with 22 out of 36 girls having non-persistent ASD compared to 14 with persistent ASD. Higher baseline adaptive skills also influenced outcomes.
Previous studies with positive outcomes included early intensive behavioral intervention, parental involvement, and better intellectual abilities. We encourage further research and acknowledge the need for more comprehensive studies to understand the factors that contribute to improvements in individuals with autism.
We discuss the importance of diagnosing autism at a young age and the study’s findings on early diagnosis, cognitive levels, and well-educated mothers. However, the study also highlights that the findings are predominantly applicable to families with higher socioeconomic status and a greater representation of white individuals. We address the controversy surrounding the topic, with differing viewpoints on accepting autism as a gift or pursuing intervention. The potential long-term effects of early intervention, such as social issues and mental health challenges, are also raised.
It is important to note that this study is just one piece of research and more data is needed. We emphasize the importance of conducting further research on adaptive skills, language and learning skills, and problem behaviors related to ASD. Our digital assessment covers self-care skills, language and learning abilities, and problem behaviors. Our ultimate goal is to help children with autism or signs of autism achieve their best outcomes. We call for more research to provide evidence and support for individuals at the beginning of their autism journey.
This highlights the importance of studies like the one discussed in this episode for future generations. I encourage listeners to spread the word about the potential for improvement through early diagnosis and treatment. It’s even possible for some toddlers to lose their autism diagnosis entirely. Join me for more insightful episodes in the future
- Workshops – Learn more about our online courses and resources with a free workshop
- Free autism digital assessment
Persistence of Autism Spectrum Disorder From Early Childhood Through School Age by Elizabeth Harstad, MD, MPH et al done out of Boston’s Childrens Hosptial
- ASHA article on the study
- Diagnosing autism with Dr. Catherine Lord
- A Summary of Dr. Ami Klin’s work on early intervention.