There are thought to be an estimated 600,000 people in Britain affected by autism. The condition results in problems reading social situations and can cause the sufferer to respond inappropriately to social cues. For many, these issues can lead to an isolated and lonely life.
Autism ranges in severity and, because of this, it is estimated that around half of those affected are undiagnosed. The condition has always been thought to be incurable, although sufferers are often taught how to cope with their autism.
This idea is now being challenged after researchers funded by the US National Institutes of Health (NIMH) carried out a study on a group of people who had previously been diagnosed with autism but were now considered ‘on par’ with their peers.
The study looked at 34 people (ages ranging from eight to 21) who had been diagnosed with autism. In every case, the diagnoses was cross checked by experts and then results were compared to a further two groups – one group of the same sex and ages who had ‘high functioning’ autism and then another group who were not affected by the condition.
Thomas Insel, director of NIMH, said: “Although the diagnosis of autism is not usually lost over time, the findings suggest that there is a very wide range of possible outcomes. Subsequent reports from this study should tell us more about the nature of autism and the role of therapy and other factors in the long term outcome for these children.”
The participants are now undergoing further study to see if any changes in brain function have occurred, and to review they types of therapies they were treated with.
While these are very interesting results, it is worth noting that it was a small study that found the children who appeared to have ‘grown out’ of autism had mild autism and a slightly higher IQ than those with high functioning autism. The condition is complex, and those diagnosed require on-going support. Hopefully with further research like this, we can learn more about the condition.
Any form of autism is hard to cope with, if you (or someone you know) has the condition, you may find it helpful to speak to a cousellor. To find out more, please see our Asperger’s Syndrome page.
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