Some children lose autism diagnosis but still struggle

April 26, 2015, American Academy of Pediatrics
autism
Quinn, an autistic boy, and the line of toys he made before falling asleep. Repeatedly stacking or lining up objects is a behavior commonly associated with autism. Credit: Wikipedia.

About one in 14 toddlers diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) no longer met the diagnostic criteria in elementary school, but most continued to have emotional/behavior symptoms and required special education supports, according to a study to be presented Sunday, April 26 at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in San Diego.

Previous studies have shown that ASD symptoms resolve in some children over time. It is not clear, however, if these children continue to have cognitive, behavioral or learning deficits.

Researchers, led by developmental pediatrician Lisa Shulman, MD, reviewed data on 38 children diagnosed with ASD in 2003-2013 whose symptoms had resolved when they were re-evaluated about four years later. The children were among 569 children living in the Bronx who had been diagnosed with ASD by a multidisciplinary team at a university-affiliated early intervention program.

The children came from racially, ethnically and socioeconomically diverse backgrounds, a population generally underrepresented in autism studies. Forty-four percent were Hispanic, 36 percent were Caucasian, 10 percent were African-American and 46 percent were on Medicaid.

Clinicians who made the original diagnosis also provided interventions and monitored response to treatment. Over time, they noted that ASD symptoms in some children resolved, but most continued to have other learning and emotional/behavioral symptoms needing attention.

"Autism generally has been considered a lifelong condition, but 7 percent of children in this study who received an early diagnosis experienced a resolution of autistic over time," said Dr. Shulman, director of Infant and Toddler Services and the Rehabilitation, Evaluation and Learning for Autistic Infants and Toddlers program at the Children's Evaluation and Rehabilitation Center/Rose F. Kennedy Center at Albert Einstein College of Medicine/Children's Hospital at Montefiore

"The majority of the children at original diagnosis displayed intellectual disability but at the point of resolution of autistic symptomatology displayed normal cognition," Dr. Shulman added.

Although the social impairment of autism resolved and cognitive functioning (IQ) improved, researchers found that 92 percent of the children had residual learning and/or emotional/behavioral impairment. Only three of the 38 children had no diagnosis.

Language/learning disability was found in 68 percent, and nearly half had externalizing problems such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder or disruptive behaviors. In addition, 24 percent had internalizing problems such anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder or selective mutism. Finally, nearly three-quarters of the continued to require academic supports, such as a small class setting or resource room.

"When an early ASD diagnosis resolves, there are often other learning and emotional/behavioral diagnoses that remain," said Dr. Shulman, associate professor of clinical pediatrics at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and attending physician, Children's Hospital at Montefiore. "Understanding the full range of possible positive outcomes in this scenario is important information for parents, clinicians and the educational system."

Explore further: Healthcare providers' responses to parental concerns can delay diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders

More information: Dr. Shulman will present "When an Early Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder Resolves, What Remains?" from 3:45-4 p.m. PT Sunday, April 26. To view the study abstract, go to http://www.abstracts2view.com/pas/view.php?nu=PAS15L1_2750.2

Related Stories

Healthcare providers' responses to parental concerns can delay diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders

April 15, 2015
Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can develop symptoms before 2 years of age and usually can be diagnosed by 3 years of age; early identification of ASD is associated with improved long-term developmental outcomes. ...

Diversity in developmental trajectories in kids with autism spectrum disorder

January 28, 2015
Preschool children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) differed from each other in symptom severity and adaptive functioning at the time of diagnosis and some of these differences appeared to increase by age 6, according ...

Parent training significantly reduces disruptive behavior in children with autism

April 21, 2015
It's estimated that six out of 1,000 children worldwide are affected by autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and 50 percent demonstrate serious and disruptive behavior, including tantrums, aggression, self-injury and noncompliance.

Another study finds no link between vaccine, autism

April 21, 2015
Yet another scientific study has found no link between autism and the vaccine against measles, mumps and rubella (MMR), according to US research published on Tuesday.

Autistic children more likely to have GI issues in early life

March 25, 2015
Scientists at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health report that children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) were two-and-a-half times more likely to have persistent gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms as infants ...

Tips for diagnosing young children with autism

April 6, 2015
Research shows that early intervention is beneficial for children with autism spectrum disorder, but on average children aren't diagnosed until age 4 or 5. That's about two years later than is possible, according to the U.S. ...

Recommended for you

Tackling bullying could help reduce depression in autistic teens

June 19, 2018
Teenagers with difficulties in social communication, including autism have higher rates of depressive symptoms, especially if they are being bullied.

Link found between neurotransmitter imbalance, brain connectivity in those with autism

June 6, 2018
One in 59 children in the United States lives with a form of autism spectrum disorder, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The signs of autism begin in early childhood and can affect individuals differently. ...

Mobile app for autism screening yields useful data

June 1, 2018
A Duke study of an iPhone app to screen young children for signs of autism has found that the app is easy to use, welcomed by caregivers and good at producing reliable scientific data.

Baby teeth give clues to autism's origins, detection

May 30, 2018
A close examination of baby teeth is giving new insight into the roots of autism—and ways to spot it early.

Screening may miss signs of autism, especially in girls: study

May 21, 2018
(HealthDay)—An important checklist used to screen for autism can miss subtle clues in some children, delaying their eventual diagnosis.

Autism is not linked to eating fish in pregnacy

May 21, 2018
A major study examining the fish-eating habits of pregnant women has found that they are not linked to autism or autistic traits in their children.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.