Prognosis for Autism
If your loved one has been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, you may wonder about the likely course of their condition. Will they improve? Will challenging behaviors stop or increase? What can you do to support their development and growth over time? Because every individual with autism is different, there are no universal answers to these questions. However, the prognosis for people with autism has improved over the last two decades as more treatments have been identified and tested.
What is Autism?
Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that begins at birth or within the first two-and-a-half years of life. Autism is a spectrum disorder, meaning that it can appear in a range of forms and severity levels. The prognosis for a child with autism depends on the severity of their initial symptoms but can be influenced by early intervention and treatment.
For years autism was thought to be irreversible. While autism is a lifelong condition, there are now evidence-based treatments that can help and support people with autism. Parents and caregivers of people with autism collaborate with clinicians to identify the treatments most likely to support the individual and appropriately address their symptoms.
Treatments influence prognosis
Many researchers, clinicians, and parents have investigated and tracked the efficacy of autism treatments over time. While each individual with autism is different, some treatments have shown positive effects for people with autism. ARI’s online webinars, presented by qualified experts can help you gauge which treatments might be most effective for your loved one. However, parents should seek out the advice of a qualified health professional before starting any autism treatment.
Several co-occurring conditions—called comorbidities by clinicians—have been identified. Treating underlying conditions and related disorders can improve the prognosis for individuals with autism. Some individuals may be unable to fully articulate their pain or discomfort, so they should receive regular check-ups from qualified health professionals with an understanding of autism.
Early intervention yields better results
Age at intervention can impact long-term outcomes–research has shown that the earlier a child is treated, the better the prognosis will be. In recent years, there has been an increase in the percentage of children who can attend school in a typical classroom and go on to live semi-independently in community settings. However, the majority of people with autism remain affected to some degree in their ability to communicate and socialize.
As this video presented by V. Mark Durand, Ph.D. explains, many people with autism engage in challenging and sometimes disturbing behaviors. Families and teachers of individuals with autism can learn to employ positive psychology to help them experience happier and less-stressful lives.