School-age children with autism may be faring better than commonly thought, with most “doing well” in at least some aspects of development, a new study suggests.
The study, of 272 children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), found that nearly 80% were doing well in at least one of five developmental areas by age 10. Nearly one-quarter were doing well in four of those areas.
The researchers said that the findings suggest positive trajectories in ASD are more common than generally thought. That’s because the study took a wider view of what “doing well” means.
It was defined not only in the traditional way, where kids with ASD have “proficiency” in a skill that’s similar to their peers without ASD. It also included “growth,” meaning children improved in a skill area over time.
“We’re saying, let’s broaden the notion of what ‘doing well’ is,” said lead researcher Dr. Peter Szatmari, of the Hospital for Sick Children and the Center for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, Canada.
“ASD is a disorder with many challenges,” he said. “But there is also room for optimism and hope.”