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Growing out of autism?

(49 Posts)
spookycatandfluffydog Wed 16-Jan-13 14:31:22

I just wondered what people thought of this:

OP’s posts: |
CoteDAzur Sat 19-Jan-13 09:18:17

"saying that they grew out of it, is a red herring, it is more likely that they were not affected badly in the first place.......or due to years of therapy they have managed to be "normal""

And they get very good at imitating "normal" behaviour to fit in - pleasantly smiling and chit-chatting at a social function (although bored within an inch of their lives) and avoiding subjects they know will cause upset to others and expose them as "weirdos", like religion or obscure properties of quantum particles.

Peachy Sat 19-Jan-13 10:10:54

According to the DSM autism is a lifelong condition. Ergo, children do NOT grow out of it.

SOME people absolutely have the ability to cover the difficulties somewhat as they grow older, and some people are misdiagnosed (have never met anyone mind you, although there was some discussion at University- studying for an MA in Autism alongside having 2 children with ASD, one in assessment and being assessed myself so reckon I know a little- about very early diagnosis being accompanied by a slight risk of misdiagnosis but being worth it in the long run as the children will still need help.

But you either have autism or you don't.

DS1 was diagnosed as having boderline AD years ago, he actually at age 13 has to attend a specialist school unit for people with Aspergers / HFA, he has grown INTO it if anything: and whilst ds3 has always been clearly disabled, the autism has become more obvious as the root of his issues as he ages.

Research is important but nobody is doing research into the great many services that autistic people miss out on (alongside other disabled people, I know)- actually considered doing something similar for my MA Dissertation and was gently warned off (doing parental reports of empathic ability instead).

Also- there is a lot of apparent links between people with very high functioning autism /AS who receive no long term support and other conditions such as depression, anorexia etc that we CAN help people avoid- articles like this have to be very carefully produced as they can support cuts to provision, yet cause lives that held promise to be destroyed long term and cost just as much in terms of long term psych support, unemployment support, marital breakdown.

Peachy Sat 19-Jan-13 10:25:28

Nuclear- he seems to have made great progress. I wouldn't expect he has grown out of it- you may find if he hits bumps in the road that he shows up again IYSWIM- but it does sound like he has developed along a great pathway that minimises his needs and learned to find socially acceptable ways of handling his needs (such as the plane websites). Puberty from all accounts can go either way- either a spurt in coping skills or a regression. Or indeed, a mix.

Personally, my own AS isn't a constant in terms of presentation: the level of support I need from my DH and friends (online ones whoa re wonderful and I can ask for opinions about situations- FANJOs I mean you!)- varies, sometimes I am very confident and able to access some situations, other times I need talking out of the house. But the key stuff- organisational diffciulty, inability to understand when people are sniping at me approach people without an appointment (eg in the playground)- all that stuff that seems so minor but affects every single day- that is constant. Indeed I actually realised I needed a proper dx when I had to speak to a parent in the playground and could not as she was with someone else and I realised I had absolutely no script to allow me to make that social move outside my repertoire. Added in the rest and spoke to a few experts and we realised.

TheNebulousBoojum Sat 19-Jan-13 10:37:39

'As above - 2 Aspies - oldest now 14 and can, as he calls it pass 90% of the time but he still recognises the differences in his thought processes from a socially acceptable norm.'

Same here raspberryroop, my DS calls it PFN Passing for normal.
He's 18 and his veneer is very thick now, but put him in a stressful situation and it is stripped away in an instant.
It's why he carries a mobile too, I'm his hotline for WTF is going on here and what should I do? when faced with weird NT-driven situations. I don't think he's grown out of being an Aspie, I think reasonable accommodations by others and by him have enabled him to cope.
Like a diabetic on insulin, they PFN too but take away the props and they're fucked.

Purplelooby Sat 19-Jan-13 12:21:32

Pile of balls.

As a child, I displayed a lot of the signs of Aspergers (obsessive behaviour, hating being touched, tics, etc.) but was refered with suspected Tourettes. My mother panicked about me being labelled and cancelled the referal.

As an adult I don't think I've changed at all, but I've changed my behaviour so that I seem 'normal'; most people think just think I'm quirky and perhaps a little unpredictable. I still have tics but they are hidden and I detest being hugged. And I look just a bit past people's eyes, which has the bad effect that I make too much eye-contact and men often read this to mean that I'm attracted to them.

WillowinGloves Sat 19-Jan-13 17:26:44

Agree with everyone here. My DS (15) was first tentatively dx'd age 9 and the paediatrician said then that he was AS, high-functioning, bright, and would probably be able to learn the behaviours that did not come to him instinctively. And he has, but it is hard work, it is tiring for him, and it means he is always on a slight time-lag compared to his contemporaries. He has to do it all more consciously and be aware all the time of how things are different. And that's just social behaviour; then there's all the organisational stuff - what Attwood calls 'Impaired Executive Function'. To many people, I'm sure he appears 'normal' but that is maturity and practice - what's that thing about practising for 10,000 hours to be an expert? Well, he's had years of practise at appearing to be NT! Doesn't mean he's not instinctively still AS in there!

Peachy Sat 19-Jan-13 20:33:56

This reminds me of a visitor we had in June 2012. She knew the family well and was convinced ds1's AS was non existent. She had never met him in a home environment, only one where he felt (rightly) he had to - and I like the term above and will steal it- 'PFN'.

Of course, within the half hour she was sat on the sofa that looks onto the corridor and jumper- ds1 had gone past riding (age 12) on the back of a fire engine toy, propelled by socked feet on tippy toes, hands in shoes flapping and screeching like a bird. He went up and down for some considerable time.

After that, she believed.

DS1 is often like that; but you need only to glance at him for the second he has his tourettes-like facial tic to know it's not reality.

swaye Sat 19-Jan-13 22:58:59

There's a really good grsphic here that shows how learning disabilities over lap each other. This is the reason that often there is so much confussion over the type of learning disability and why they can also be easily missed. hope that helps.

JusticeCrab Sun 20-Jan-13 16:06:17

I HATE 'scientific journalism' headlines, because they're so misleading. The headline is totally inaccurate. Here is what the woman REALLY said...

Dr Judith Gould, director of the National Autistic Society's Lorna Wing Centre for Autism, said: "Autism is a lifelong disability affecting the way that people communicate and interact with others.

"This study is looking at a small sample of high functioning people with autism and we would urge people not to jump to conclusions about the nature and complexity of autism, as well its longevity.

"With intensive therapy and support, it's possible for a small sub-group of high functioning individuals with autism to learn coping behaviours and strategies which would 'mask' their underlying condition and change their scoring in the diagnostic tests used to determine their condition in this research.

"This research acknowledges that a diagnosis of autism is not usually lost over time and it is important to recognise the support that people with autism need in order to live the lives of their choosing."

This clearly fits more closely to what threesocks said than it does to the 'grow out of autism' headline. (I was HFA as a kid but identify as NT now: the only things that remain from my autistic behaviours in childhood are a tendency to disappear into my bedroom/headphones for hours when overstimulated, and vocal tics which got a Tourette's Syndrome diagnosis a few years ago).

plus3 Sun 20-Jan-13 21:23:06

Saw this & immediately thought 'no, learn to cope & adapt'
My DS doesn't have a diagnosis yet, but even I can see that he is brilliant at finding ways to cope.

Toughasoldboots Sun 20-Jan-13 21:26:19

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

plus3 Sun 20-Jan-13 21:41:18

It's best not to Tough smile
My mil told me I was just being she looks after my DC after school for 1 night a week & apparently she has always known he had something funny, probably Aspergers hmm
But the good news is - it won't be a problem! Phew! All that worry for nothing!

ReallyTired Sat 26-Jan-13 22:26:50

"Because autism is caused by differences within structures of the brain, unless the brain restructures itself massively then you're still autistic."

The brain can literally restructure itself with intensive theraphy. Every time we learn something new our brain restructures itself with a new neuron connection. However the brains of some people with learning difficulites find it harder to create or retain new connections.

For example someone with brain damage can develop new neuro connections or reassign different parts of the brain to do different jobs after intensive theraphy. (Ie. the child with cerbral palsy who learns to walk after intensive physio.)

Similarly children with autism can develop social skills, speech and a tolerance of changes of routine. However life still remains a struggle. Relieving the symptoms of autism by education is not a cure.

It is not yet possible to diagnose autism by a brain scan, yet alone tell if we have "cured it".

CoteDAzur Sat 26-Jan-13 22:50:52

Yes, brain restructures itself all the time. I think the point there was that autism is a hardware problem and not a software problem. It is about the way the brain functions, and it will remain the same even after a stroke or a brain trauma where different parts of the brain take over functions of dead brain cells.

ReallyTired Sun 27-Jan-13 11:28:36

" I think the point there was that autism is a hardware problem and not a software problem."

I completely agree. However the brains of most autistic people function reasonably well except for major glitch somewhere. It is similar to someone with biopolar disorder. Other parts of the brain can learn to compensate for the faulty circuitary, but the fault is still there. The autistic person can learn a theory of mind, but it does not come naturally. It is a bit like the fact that an adult learning a new lanaguage uses a different part of the brain to a child learning a new language.

This research shows that early intervention is worthwhile and that autistic people can be helped. It is actually very positive news for people with autism and their families.

PandaOnAPushBike Sun 27-Jan-13 16:38:15

I 'grew out' of my autism in my mid 20s. I was just like any other young woman. Except that is only the outsiders perspective. Inside the difficulties, anxieties, lack of understanding was exactly the same. But only I could see it. As others said, I learnt to cope. I did this by mimicking others. I could hold down a fairly normal, small talk type conversation and appear just like anyone else. To do this though I was constantly playing 'recordings' of other peoples' conversations which I had witnessed and stored up over the years. It was never a natural state of affairs. It was the same as a normal person deciding they were going to be Kermit the Frog and constantly impersonating his speech, mannerisms, dress etc to keep up the pretense.

Lots of autistic adults do this. It's how they get by. But it can't be maintained and eventually 'autistic burnout' will occur. For me, this massive crash happened in my late 30s. I regressed to being more autistic than I'd ever been before. I had exhausted myself and couldn't keep up any of the pretending anymore. Now I am much more selective in my coping techniques. They are all about making my daily life better. They are not and will never be about being someone I'm not ever again. Down that path madness lurks.

IneedAsockamnesty Tue 05-Feb-13 02:02:43

What a load of bollocks

Obviously the story ( as that's what it is) not what other posters have said

Cailleach Tue 05-Feb-13 13:57:01

Pandas story could be mine, except my crash happened in my mid-twenties.

Whilst I appear to be outwardly normal with good conversational skills, all those skills have had to be learned by rote and I am constantly checking off what I'm saying against my mental "script for this sort of conversation." It never flows naturally, ever, and doing all this double-thinking and cross referencing is exhausting.

Whilst I don't doubt that some children may be delayed in their development to the extent that they display autistic behaviours, and that those children may 'catch up' with their NT peers to an extent, I do doubt that they can be 'cured' of autism. They may learn skills which mask their condition to a great degree, as Panda and I have done, but they will never have a neurologically 'normal' brain.

My father has grand mal epilepsy, my sister has petit mal: their neurological wiring is different from the norm, as is the case in autism (scans of autistic peoples brains show that the electrical activity in an AS brain is very different from that of an NT one.)

No-one would suggest you can learn your way out of epilespy!

I understand that the point the article is making is that autistics can learn coping skills, but to present that as a sort of complete cure is disingenuous to say the least.

oakwoodbank Sat 17-Aug-13 16:45:18

90% of autism is autistic spectrum disorder; the other 10% is classical autism.

All cases of autism are of neurological origin and have not been considered to be psychiatric problems for many years now. This means that each case of autism is individual and although there are common symptoms/behaviours that is largely due to the neuropathology affected similar parts of the brain.

The most important matters for anyone with autism is their environment and the ability of carers to be fully aware of the needs of the person so affected. If a sufferer manages to find a better environment as he/she grows older they will have less behavioural problems and this may seen to be an ‘improvement’ — which of course it is; but that is the nature of the condition.

Another important issue is again to do with the fact that autism is a neurological condition rather than a psychiatric one. There is the frequently experienced bad effects of psychotropic medication on someone who already has a damaged brain. These drugs have not been clinically tested on those with brain damage and they are given in a suck-it-and-see state of hopefulness as these days that is all many psychiatrists are able to do.

If there is a development of psychological problems in someone with autism their specialist should be a neuropsychologist not a psychiatrist. It is unfortunate that GPs still take the latter course.

If anyone would like to understand the dynamics of the neurological problem in autism then have a look at my papers at:

saintlyjimjams Sat 17-Aug-13 16:54:53

Zombie thread, but interested. Where did you get the 90 vs 10% ASD versus classic figure from oakwood? And how are you defining each? Curious. Ds1 is severely autistic (simplex case) after a regression - very different from various other cases I know.

I will look at your papers when I'm not on my phone

MrsJoeGargery Mon 19-Aug-13 14:44:16

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

handerson91 Mon 18-Nov-13 18:32:41

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

AliceinWinterWonderland Tue 19-Nov-13 13:55:27


petteacher Wed 04-Dec-13 12:34:49

its a big subject Heard about treetops sch

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