Can Autism Go Away? Growing Out Of Autism

Are you wondering, “can you grow out of autism” or if it goes away with age? Keep reading.

steven zauderer
Steven Zauderer
August 3rd, 2022

Can You Grow Out Of Autism? Officially, “No”

Unfortunately, no. There’s no way to grow out of autism.

An autism diagnosis will last for a person’s lifetime, and treatment is intended to lower the reactions and characteristics of symptoms.

can you grow out of autism

As a developmental disorder, autism has no known cure.

Though this could change in the years to come, there’s nothing available over the counter or as a prescription that can rid anyone of ASD. It’ll last for the entirety of one’s life.

If you have seen or read stories about therapy techniques or miracle products capable of curing someone of autism, it’s not true and it’s a scam.

Autism does have different levels of severity.

Kids with mild autistic symptoms that are found at an early age can better manage it than people diagnosed later on in life.

Treatments like ABA therapy can help them while they’re still in the developing stages of cognitive growth and learning.

Read More: What Is ABA Therapy?

This isn’t to say that older people diagnosed cannot learn anything, however.

Autism can be mitigated to a level where no symptoms are conspicuous to others around them.

This can happen when a child learns how to cover it up or hide it, which itself can lead to more problems later on. But that doesn’t mean that they’re entirely gone.

While autistic symptoms can be lowered, growing out of it isn’t possible to do with today’s treatment.

Some studies show that between three and 25% of kids might give the appearance of no longer having autism.

Read More: How Many People Have Autism?

Symptoms can always come forth again, especially when under situations of duress or other stressful situations.

Early Autism May Not Last A Lifetime

One recent study revealed that kids diagnosed with autism early on in their life could lose some symptoms as they become teenagers and adults.

kids diagnosed early could lose some symptoms

More studies are done to help researchers build on the data obtained before any conclusions can be finalized.

Further study will help them to understand how this changes, and the route that was taken for the children to gain better behavior over time.

Autism consists of multiple cognitive disorders, with varying levels of severity.

People with the disorder usually have difficulty conducting themselves in a social setting.

This can include talking, staying on topic during the conversation, looking people in the eyes, and expressing themselves without getting agitated.

Optimal outcome describes the lessening of symptoms to where they’re not easily detected in children.

Though acknowledged, it has been subject to debate over whether symptoms went away, were hidden, or if their autism diagnosis was correct.

In another study involving kids who were accurately diagnosed, symptoms were still present, though in very mild forms.

Possible Conclusions & Study Limitations

Below are more details concerning the finalizations about autistic symptoms being lowered.

Autism Can Be Misdiagnosed

People that are thought to have autism could be misdiagnosed in some instances.

It happens more often than some might expect.

If this occurs, then the symptoms would decrease to levels where it isn’t detected.

Much research has relied on a child’s medical history, as is documented in paperwork or varied health departments.

When they’re diagnosed, it’s not done through individual testing and study. Even babies are sometimes diagnosed with autism, as early as 18 months in some cases.

autism could be misdiagnosed

When done this early, it simply isn’t possible to detect the primary setbacks in their development that is usually found when children reach toddler age.

As a result, not every child that’s listed to have autism may always have ASD.

The earlier the diagnosis, the more study should be conducted to verify that indicators of autism are present as they become older.

And when done too early, the chances of misdiagnosis increase - exponentially.

Some behaviors exhibited might be identical to that of autism. At the same time, other indicators might be skipped or undetected that would reveal another diagnosis as the issue.

Autism has many symptoms that are present in other disorders. Physical problems can sometimes be misdiagnosed. Here are the most common:

  • Speech issues – Speech that appears unorderly can be present due to many problems that aren’t due to autism. Hearing problems and Apraxia make children slow at speaking. If the features causing them hearing problems, such as ear infections, are solved, their ability to talk may improve.
  • Sensory-related problems – These are another issue that’s very similar to what’s found in autistic patients. However, sensory troubles without an autism diagnosis are usually rare. Doctors and parents can attempt to help a child deal with sensory overload by keeping them calm and related, whereby more severe autistic traits might not show. In that case, ASD may not be present in a child.
  • Allergic reactions – Things like food, air quality, or other intolerances can make a small child impact their ability to focus, pay attention, and behave. Changing a child’s diet may impact these traits, and keep an autism diagnosis at bay.
  • Similar disorders – Again, many disorders harbor symptoms that are found in autism. Many are also related, even being spectrum disorders themselves. Things like OCD, general anxiety in social settings, and other disorders that slow a child’s ability to learn speech quickly can be treated using therapy techniques and medications. Unfortunately, they’re sometimes mistaken for autism alone.

Higher Innate Cognitive Abilities

Kids with autism sometimes exhibit intelligence that’s higher than their peers. This can be found on IQ tests, where the child may score higher than other kids of their age.

When this is the case, such children are in a position to manage their symptoms better than other kids on the spectrum.

They’re capable of understanding cues better. It may be easier for them to hide the presence of symptoms related to autism as well, particularly when they’re older.

autistic children can be smarter

Many kids with higher cognitive abilities may exhibit few problems when in the comfort of home, but they may become noticeable when they’re among their peers.

Social pressure and being a bit too much for anyone with autism, which is where symptoms are sometimes best observed.

Symptoms don’t develop in such kids unannounced.

They can be dormant or present according to the setting of the child and how comfortable they are with the people around them.

Additional Issues

Some issues linked with autism may not be the actual characteristics of what they should be diagnosed with.

For instance, autism might be confused with issues showing difficulties with learning a language or generally misbehaving.

Emotional issues are also common with such observed problems.

When diagnosed very young, kids that later show problems paying attention may have ADHD or any of its similar disorders, but not autism.

The inability to control emotions is commonly found alongside the other mentioned symptoms.

Even while they might show signs of recovering from autism, additional therapy and close observations are needed to ensure that proper characterization of their disorder has been made.

Some kids have been taken to ABA therapy but later found to have something entirely different from autism.

Parents that have been told that their child has autism should continuously have a medical professional monitor them for any signs that reveal autism not be present.

How Treatment Can Significantly Improve Symptoms

It’s very rare to see a child that’s been diagnosed early lose all of their previously noted symptoms, at least without some sort of intervention.

The majority do improve gradually as they become more mature and learn about the world around them.

Improvements can be to the point of their autism being undetected, even without them intentionally trying to conceal it.

Therapists have all heard, read, or experienced instances of children that showed severe bouts of panic attacks, tantrums, and other problems that autism is well known for, only to have it go away without notice.

Parents may consider their child in this situation as recovered, though this isn’t true.

The majority of children that do this haven’t been cured, but have had a physical issue relieved that resorted to them showing signs very similar to ASD.

With a proper autism diagnosis, there is no difference in core behaviors that are present during their early childhood.

Assistance would still be needed later in their life, even while coming across to others as normal.

Which Children Are Most Likely To Improve?

Every so often, an autistic child with less than favorable symptoms can improve to a level where their ability to function after a while appears to be permanent.

It does occur, though is quite rare.

It might exist for a while, but the average autistic child with severity in their symptoms will find it very hard to manage when attempting to do complicated tasks that become more complex.

This can be issued with them talking with other people, socializing, or attempting to reason with others using abstract terminology.

The truth is that kids that aren’t able to improve are those with mild symptoms.

These children won’t exhibit disabilities with the way they learn or other extreme forms like seizures, speech impediments, anxiety, or other learning ailments.

Kids with mild autism tend to have higher scores on cognitive tests and can speak well, even in situations where they feel some social pressure.

With all the information described above, the takeaway shouldn’t be that people misdiagnosed with autism are completely normal, as in nothing’s the matter with their learning or cognitive abilities.

Even high-functioning kids and adults with autism can have problems with simple tasks.

They may struggle with problems or even be later diagnosed with other major disorders, such as OCD or ADHD. Anxiety on its own can be diagnosed, as can their inability to communicate socially.

Difference Between “Outgrowing” And “Radically Improving”

Based on the DSM, an autism misdiagnosis should still have the patient treated as such.

Even when symptoms are present, according to the documentation, they should continue to be treated.

This is due to the risk of them hiding their symptoms.

Many adults that continued to receive treatment for autism after losing their symptoms later admitted that they simply changed the way they behaved, usually to get people to think there was nothing wrong with them.

This can be a form of radically improving their ASD, regardless of whether the diagnosis is completely accurate.

Alternatively, some people view the absence of symptoms that indicate autism as good enough for it to be specified as being outgrown.

There is no clear difference between the two.

Even when autism isn’t considered gone or never actually disappearing, there remains an area where both contain evidence indicating that either conclusion could be the case, at least when individual cases are considered.

Symptom Management Tips

Here are some tips that can be used to better manage ASD symptoms:

  • Giving the child solid language abilities by the time they become a toddler.
  • Start intervention early through ABA therapy.
  • Make a list of repetitive behaviors to report to a child’s pediatrician or therapist.
  • Make a diagnosis when a child is young, followed by another if symptoms aren’t present later in their toddler years.

References

  1. Webmd.com
  2. Verywellhealth.com
  3. NIH.gov
  4. Sciencedaily.com
  5. APA.org
  6. Spectrumnews.org
steven zauderer

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

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