Kid's Work Therapy Blog

Support Still Needed for Children After Loss of Autism Diagnosis

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For many families, having a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can be challenging, so if a child loses his or her autism diagnosis, this may be seen as good news and a relief. However, for the about 7% of families whose children no longer exhibit symptoms of autism, this does not mean these children no longer need intervention or support, according to a recent study released by the American Academy of Pediatrics. As a complex condition, symptoms of autism are often accompanied by symptoms of other neurological and developmental disorders, such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), sensory processing disorder, or anxiety. In their study of 569 children with autism, 38 had lost their ASD diagnosis about four years after initial diagnosis and the researchers discovered that 92% of the children still needed support for learning, emotional, and/or behavioral deficiencies.

Parents of children whose symptoms of autism resolve themselves do have reason to celebrate since, as lead researcher Dr. Lisa Shulman states, “Autism generally has been considered a lifelong condition.” However, it is important for parents to also recognize that the loss of an ASD diagnosis does not mean they are completely out of the woods. A child whose cognitive symptoms have improved may face other challenges that need addressing and this may require further educational supports. According to the study, 68 percent of the children with resolved symptoms were diagnosed with ADHD or exhibited disruptive behaviors, while 24 percent showed signs of anxiety or obsessive-compulsive disorder.

It is essential to know what a lost diagnosis means for children, stresses Dr. Shulman. “Understanding the full range of possible positive outcomes in this scenario is important information for parents, clinicians and the educational system,” she wrote. While the number of children who lose their ASD diagnosis is small, this research suggests that the symptoms of autism can be lessened with effective treatment—even if the child remains on the spectrum. Important factors in easing symptoms of ASD in children are early and proper diagnoses. If families become aware of a child’s diagnosis early, a specialist can help provide the most effective intervention and treatments for the child.

Although early identification and intervention cannot guarantee a resolution of ASD symptoms, research shows that early identification and intervention help to reduce those symptoms. Researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara, in a 2014 study, urge early intervention: “We strongly encourage symptoms to be addressed at the earliest point in time so that parents learn effective strategies to help their children improve socially and communicatively and to decrease the possibility of more severe secondary symptoms.” If you would like more information on your child’s diagnosis or possible treatment options, please feel free to contact Dr. Stephanie Foster by emailing stephanie@kidswork.biz.

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