As children with autism get older, will their autism symptoms gradually get better?

The full name of autism is autism spectrum disorder, which refers to the symptoms and manifestations of autistic children that vary as widely as the spectrum. However, the two biggest barriers that can be identified are social communication difficulties, narrow interests, and repetitive stereotyped behaviors. When we talk about the future prognosis of autistic children, we must link it to the child’s degree of disability. Children with different levels of autism face very different future lives.

In DSM-5, the different severities of autism spectrum disorder ( ASD) are classified based on the difference in symptom expression of social communication and restricted repetitive behaviors. Levels one, two, and three respectively correspond to mild, moderate, and severe. Among them, mild autism requires help and support; moderate autism requires a lot of help and support; and patients with severe autism require a very large amount of social help and support.

Mild autism: needs help and support

1. Social communication:

In the absence of timely help and support, social communication deficiencies can cause significant functional impairment. Difficulty initiating social interactions and responding unusually or unsuccessfully to social initiations by others. May show low interest in social interactions. For example, the person can speak complete sentences and is willing to communicate, but cannot carry on back-and-forth conversations and attempts to make friends in bizarre and often unsuccessful ways.

2. Limited repetitive behaviors:

Lack of flexibility in behavior results in impairment of functioning on one or more occasions, difficulty transitioning between activities, and problems with organization and planning that impede communication.

Moderate autism: requires significant support

1. Social communication:

There are significant deficits in verbal and non-verbal social communication skills; impairment of social functioning is evident even with help and support. Limited ability to initiate social interactions and insufficient or abnormal social initiation with others. For example, he can only speak simple oranges, his social interactions are limited to narrow and special interests, and he has obviously weird non-verbal communication.

2. Limited repetitive behaviors:

Lack of flexibility in behavior, difficulty coping with change, or other restricted /repetitive behaviors that occur frequently and are noticeable, interfering with functioning in a variety of settings. There is pain or difficulty in changing focus or changing actions.

Severe autism: requires a lot of support, manifested in:

1. Social communication:

Severe deficits in verbal and nonverbal social communication, resulting in severe functional impairment, very limited ability to initiate social interactions, and minimal response to social initiations by others. For example, can only utter a few words that others can understand, rarely initiate social interactions, and, when social behaviors occur, only in unusual ways to meet their own needs, or only in very direct social interactions.

2. Limited repetitive behaviors:

Lack of flexibility in behavior, extreme difficulty responding to changes, or other limitations /repetitive behaviors that significantly interfere with all aspects of functioning. There is great pain or difficulty in changing focus or changing actions.

Scientific research shows that early detection and early intervention can have a positive effect on the prognosis of people with autism. From a neuroscientific perspective, neural plasticity refers to the brain’s ability to continuously change by establishing new neural connections over time. For children with autism, if we can diagnose them when they are two years old, or even one year old, and start intervention treatment early, then there will be a greater chance of changing their developing brains, and the child will have a clear chance of improvement. It is better to start intervention at an older age, which can achieve twice the result with half the effort.

Generally speaking, the period before 6 years old is a critical period for the formation of a child’s personality and habits. The younger the child is, the more his personality is fully formed, and he has not learned negative behaviors that are ingrained and difficult to correct. At this time, it is easier to learn skills through natural methods and narrow the development gap with ordinary children.

We implement early intervention for children, and I believe that the goal of many parents is to hope that their children can reach the development level of a normal child. First of all, children have relatively strong learning abilities when they are young. Expanding the child’s learning ability during the critical period may provide greater opportunities and space for his future growth and development, and make it easier to narrow the gap in children’s development.

At the same time, in early childhood, the abilities of ordinary children and the skills they need to learn are still relatively simple. The abilities of children with autism are not very different from those of children of the same age. Therefore, the content of intervention is relatively simple, and the progress of children’s learning is limited. It will be faster. Moreover, during this period, children do not have the burden of learning knowledge from school, and we have more time to conduct extensive training on their behavior, social interaction, language, etc.

According to the symptoms of the above three different levels of autistic people, it can be seen that mild autism can greatly improve their abilities in all aspects through timely and scientific intervention. As they grow older, they are very likely to integrate into society. The goal. Even for people with moderate and severe autism, through active intervention, they can master basic self-care skills. Some people with moderate autism can even engage in simple jobs, even if the symptoms of autism still exist at that time. However it no longer affects basic life, and it is a relatively ideal prognosis for families.

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