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Can Level 2 Autism Be Cured?

Explore if level 2 autism can be cured, unraveling therapies, support strategies, and symptom changes over time.

steven zauderer
Steven Zauderer
April 10, 2024
10 min read
min read

Understanding Level 2 Autism

Level 2 autism, also known as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by social communication difficulties and repetitive patterns of behavior. Understanding the characteristics and challenges faced by individuals with Level 2 Autism can help in providing them with the appropriate support and care.

Characteristics of Level 2 Autism

Level 2 autism is considered more severe than Level 1 and less severe than Level 3 autism. According to Songbird Therapy, individuals with Level 2 autism may face challenges with joint engagement, conduct, emotional regulation, language, social reciprocity, and related cognitive abilities. This can make it difficult for them to monitor emotional states, recognize social cues, and initiate interactions.

According to Psych Central and Blue ABA Therapy, individuals with Level 2 autism exhibit atypical social behaviors and have compromised social communication skills. They may walk away during interactions, experience stress with change or transition, and require extra support at home or school.

These individuals have difficulty communicating verbally and nonverbally, may speak in short sentences or only communicate about special interests. They often have difficulty providing eye contact and may walk away during conversations or have abnormal responses to social cues. Furthermore, they may show marked distress when dealing with changes in routines, and repetitive behaviors occur more frequently and are noticeable to the layperson.

Challenges Faced by Individuals

People diagnosed with Level 2 autism face unique challenges in their daily life. These include lasting difficulties in social communication and social interaction across multiple environments, restricted interests, and repetitive patterns of behavior. These traits, which must be evident from infancy or early childhood, significantly impact the child’s daily life to receive a diagnosis Blue ABA Therapy.

These challenges can create barriers to forming and maintaining relationships, participating in social activities, and achieving educational and career goals. However, with the right support, strategies, and interventions, individuals with Level 2 autism can manage these challenges and lead fulfilling lives. Further sections of this article will explore treatment approaches, support strategies, and ways to promote strengths in individuals with Level 2 autism.

Treatment Approaches for Level 2 Autism

While there is currently no known cure for autism, evidence-based therapies and interventions can significantly improve the quality of life and functional abilities of individuals with Level 2 autism. This section will explore behavioral therapies, educational interventions, and developmental therapies as treatment strategies.

Behavioral Therapies

Behavioral therapies, particularly Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), have the most evidence for treating symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). ABA therapy utilizes rewards and positive reinforcement techniques to teach adaptive behaviors and reduce problematic behaviors. This approach is widely accepted among educators and healthcare professionals for its effectiveness in helping individuals with Level 2 autism learn new skills and manage challenging behaviors.

Additionally, psychological approaches such as Cognitive-Behavior Therapy (CBT) can help individuals with ASD cope with anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues by focusing on learning the connections between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

Educational Interventions

Educational treatments for ASD are often given in a classroom setting. One type of educational approach is the Treatment and Education of Autistic and Related Communication-Handicapped Children (TEACCH) approach. This approach is based on the principle that individuals with autism thrive on consistency and visual learning. It provides structure, consistency, and visual supports that help individuals with autism thrive [2].

These structured educational interventions can be pivotal in improving social interaction and communication skills, thus enhancing the ability of individuals with Level 2 autism to engage and thrive in various social and academic settings.

Developmental Therapies

Developmental therapies, such as Speech and Language Therapy, focus on improving specific developmental skills that may be challenging for individuals with Level 2 autism. These therapies aim to enhance language skills, physical abilities, and other key developmental areas.

These interventions are often combined with behavioral approaches for a comprehensive treatment strategy. By focusing on the individual’s unique needs and abilities, developmental therapies can significantly improve the communication and social interaction skills of individuals with Level 2 autism, contributing to their overall growth and development.

Remember, early intervention services, such as these therapies, are vital for children with Level 2 autism. They aim to help children learn important skills such as communication, social interaction, and daily activities [1].

In conclusion, while there may not be a "cure" for autism, these treatment approaches can help individuals with Level 2 autism lead fulfilling, independent lives.

Support and Management Strategies

While there is no definitive cure for level 2 autism, several supportive strategies and management techniques can help individuals lead fulfilling lives. These strategies span from early intervention to family support and medication considerations.

Early Intervention Importance

Early intervention has proved critical in improving the prognosis for a child diagnosed with level 2 Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The malleability of children's brains is at its peak during the first three years of life. Early intervention programs help children with ASD acquire skills typically learned during the first two years of life, thereby significantly aiding their development.

Given that children diagnosed with level 2 autism often face substantial challenges impairing their daily activities, early intervention becomes even more crucial. Communication hardships are typically more profound, and the gaps in social aptitudes are wider, especially as the child advances into middle school.

Family Support and Resources

Family support plays a vital role in managing level 2 autism. Parents, siblings, and extended family members can help create a supportive and understanding environment that fosters development and learning. Various resources, such as support groups, educational materials, and specialized programs, can provide families with the tools and knowledge they need to support their loved ones effectively.

Medication Considerations

In some cases, medication may be considered for individuals with level 2 autism to manage specific symptoms, such as irritability, aggression, hyperactivity, and anxiety. It's vital to understand that medication does not cure autism but can help individuals better manage certain challenging behaviors or co-occurring conditions.

Symptom Possible Medication
Irritability Risperidone, Aripiprazole
Aggression Risperidone, Aripiprazole
Hyperactivity Methylphenidate, Atomoxetine
Anxiety Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)

However, all medication decisions should be made in consultation with a healthcare professional who understands the individual's unique needs and challenges. The potential benefits and side-effects should be thoroughly discussed to ensure the best possible outcome.

While autism is a lifelong diagnosis, and there is no known cure for any level of autism, early diagnosis and treatment can lead to better outcomes and a higher quality of life for individuals with autism [4]. Therefore, while the question 'Can level 2 autism be cured?' might not have a definitive 'yes' for an answer, it's crucial to remember that the right support and management strategies can make a significant difference.

Neurofeedback Treatment for Level 2 Autism

In the quest to improve the quality of life for individuals with Level 2 Autism, neurofeedback treatment emerges as a promising avenue. This treatment protocol, offered by institutions like the Drake Institute, leverages the power of technology to target brain areas associated with autism symptoms.

Understanding Neurofeedback

Neurofeedback, also known as EEG biofeedback, is a type of therapy that involves monitoring and modifying brain wave activity. It uses real-time displays of brain activity—most commonly electroencephalography (EEG)—to teach self-regulation of brain functions. This therapy aims to enhance the brain's ability to function optimally and adapt to new situations, which can be particularly beneficial for individuals with Level 2 Autism.

Benefits of qEEG Brain Mapping

In the context of autism treatment, qEEG brain mapping plays a pivotal role. The Drake Institute uses this technology to identify dysregulated areas and functional networks of the brain linked to symptoms of autism. By pinpointing these areas, clinicians can develop highly targeted treatment plans that directly address the unique needs of each individual [4].

Through qEEG brain mapping, clinicians gain a comprehensive understanding of the individual's brain function. This, in turn, allows them to provide more effective and personalized treatment, including neurofeedback training tailored to the individual's specific brain activity patterns.

Effectiveness of Neurostimulation

Neurostimulation is another treatment option that may be used in conjunction with neurofeedback. This technology uses electrical currents or magnetic fields to stimulate or alter brain activity. While the use of neurostimulation in autism treatment is still in its early stages, initial studies show promise.

One such study, "Modulating Temporoparietal Junction Mentalizing-Related Activity in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Using Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)", aims to test the modulation effect of different TMS on the neural network supporting mentalizing in young adults with autism. The study hopes to determine if stimulation of the right temporoparietal junction can change brain activity related to mentalizing during social interaction and if the patterns of neural activity change are similar to those in individuals without autism.

These emerging treatments, including neurofeedback and neurostimulation, highlight the advances being made in autism treatment. While these methods cannot cure autism, they do offer hope for improving the capacities and quality of life of individuals with Level 2 Autism. As research continues, it is hoped that even more effective treatments will be discovered.

Changes in Autism Symptoms Over Time

In the quest to understand whether level 2 autism can be mitigated, it's essential to consider the changes that occur in autism symptoms over time. These changes can be influenced by various factors, including the age, IQ, and gender of the individual.

Severity Changes in Childhood

A recent study by UC Davis MIND Institute researchers discovered that the severity of a child’s autism symptoms can alter substantially between the ages of 3 and 11. Approximately half of the children studied saw significant changes in the severity of their symptoms during early childhood. Around 30% of kids experienced a decrease by two or more ADOS severity scores across their childhood [6].

Age Range Severity Change
3 - 11 years Significant
6 - 11 years Highest increase

Factors Influencing Symptom Changes

The UC Davis Health study revealed that children who experienced a decrease in the severity of autism symptoms typically had parents who were older and more educated. These children likely had access to more resources. Conversely, children who experienced an increase in severity had younger, less-educated parents. This highlights the critical role of ensuring all parents have access to the necessary information and resources for their children [6].

Additionally, children with higher IQs at ages 3 and 6 tended to see a decrease in their autism symptoms during early childhood. Those who experienced an increase in symptom severity had lower IQs that remained stable. IQ was found to be a better predictor of symptom-severity change at earlier ages, and children with higher IQs benefited more from interventions, leading to decreases in autism severity [6].

The percentage of children who increased in severity of autism symptoms between ages 6-11 was higher than that of other ages. The rise in severity during this period is theorized to be due to increased social demands that may lead individuals to withdraw, as well as the development of anxiety, which can increase at that age.

Gender Differences in Symptom Improvement

The study also revealed that girls showed more symptom improvement compared to boys. A higher percentage of girls showed a decrease in symptom severity than boys. Ongoing studies are exploring the differences between boys and girls in the context of autism symptoms and the potential masking of symptoms by girls [6].

Understanding these changes in autism symptoms over time and the factors that influence them is crucial in developing effective strategies and interventions to support individuals with autism and their families. This research signifies that while level 2 autism might not be "cured" in the traditional sense, its symptoms can improve over time with the right support and resources.

Promoting Strengths in Level 2 Autism

In the context of Level 2 Autism, it's crucial to remember that while this condition brings challenges, it also presents unique strengths. Recognizing these strengths, empowering individuals with autism, and acknowledging their potential contributions to society are fundamental for their growth and development.

Recognizing Individual Strengths

People with Level 2 Autism often display exceptional memory, superior attention to detail, advanced problem-solving skills, and a deep fixation on specific interests. These traits, although sometimes seen as part of the challenges associated with autism, can be turned into strengths. By acknowledging and nurturing these attributes, we can help individuals with Level 2 Autism to develop their abilities and excel in areas that align with their special interests.

Empowering Individuals with Autism

Empowering individuals with autism goes beyond merely recognizing their strengths. It involves providing them with the right tools to manage their symptoms and improve their ability to function in various environments. This process often includes early intervention programs, which are particularly effective due to the malleability of the brain during the early years of life. In fact, IQ studies have shown that children with higher IQs at ages 3 and 6 tend to decrease in their autism symptoms during early childhood, indicating the effectiveness of early interventions.

Contributions to Society

Individuals with Level 2 Autism, like all individuals, have the potential to contribute significantly to society. Their unique perspectives, problem-solving abilities, and intense focus on specific interests can lead to innovative ideas and solutions in various fields. The key is to create an inclusive and supportive environment that allows individuals with autism to thrive and share their skills and talents, enhancing societal diversity and richness.

While it's crucial to acknowledge that Level 2 Autism is a lifelong condition and there is no cure, it's equally important to emphasize that individuals with this condition can lead fulfilling and productive lives. By focusing on strengths, promoting empowerment, and valuing contributions, we can help in breaking barriers and fostering a more inclusive society.

References

[1]: https://www.abtaba.com/blog/can-level-2-autism-be-cured

[2]: https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/treatment.html

[3]: https://blueabatherapy.com/autism/level-2/

[4]: https://www.drakeinstitute.com/what-is-level-2-autism

[5]: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/trials/autism-spectrum-disorders-asd

[6]: https://health.ucdavis.edu/news/headlines/autism-characteristics-can-change-significantly-from-ages-3-to-11/2022/04

steven zauderer

CEO of CrossRiverTherapy - a national ABA therapy company based in the USA.

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