How many times have you been told that your son (or daughters) will outgrow much of their autism, as if by magic? There is some good news and some... Interesting to note that "adulthood" was age 23. Two of my daughters must be approaching middle age!) No 33, 43, or 53 year old subjects?
August 26, 2020
Population-Based Study Aims to Identify Features to Predict Functioning Level in Later Life
Planning a meaningful future for a child with autism can give even the calmest parents anxiety. Especially when they are tasked with making educational, employment and/or vocational decisions while research gaps regarding autism symptoms experienced in adulthood exist. A recent SafeMinds Shares article reported on a new study that examined changes in autism symptom severities from preschool to early elementary school years. The study found around half (54.4%) of the young participant’s autism severities remained unchanged and about half of the cohort experienced a change. Twenty-eight percent saw a reduction in their autism symptoms while, sadly, 16% had their symptoms worsen.
But what about predicting changes in later developmental years? A study published earlier this year in the Journal of American Academy of Child Adolescence Psychiatry may help provide anxious parents with guidance with this issue. This population-based longitudinal study from Great Britain is the first to investigate autism symptom changes in late childhood through early adult life. Using data from the Special Needs Autism Project (SNAP), the study’s authors examined latent growth curve models at three time points 12, 16, and 23 years. At each of these intervals, IQ and parent reported Social Responsiveness Scale Autism Symptoms were measured in order to plot trajectory changes of development and functioning throughout these years.
The study’s results contained a few surprises. On an extremely positive note, the 126 participants experienced an unexpected and significant IQ increase by a mean of 7.48 points. Since IQ tests are normed for all ages, this considerable rise would not be seen in the general population. This increase suggests that there is continued cognitive development in the adolescent/early adulthood period for individuals with autism that is not experienced in typically developing individuals.
Interestingly, the researchers also found that participants who had a history of early language regression exhibited significantly greater IQ gains during this time period. The authors suggest that individuals who experienced early regression may continue to have a different developmental course into their second decade of life compared to those with autism who did not have a history of regression.
While there was good news for cognitive functioning, there was disappointing news when it came to autism symptoms. Read More Here.