Autism recovery or initial misdiagnosis?

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In summary, I'm skeptical of the claim that someone has "recovered" from autism. The story does mention that Temple Grandin has done well, but the teenager in question does not seem to have recovered at all.
  • #1
Math Is Hard
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Autism "recovery" or initial misdiagnosis?

This is a fascinating story, but I quite skeptical, even in light of high-functioning autistic people like Temple Grandin.

A Child Who 'Recovered' From Autism
After Two Years of Intensive Therapy, Jake Exkorn No Longer Exhibited Autism Symptoms

Sept. 29, 2005 — Jake Exkorn was progressing on schedule with other babies, learning words like "momma," "dada," pointing at objects that interested him, and clapping and imitating those around him.

But gradually, Jake stopped talking. He stopped learning. And, finally, he stopped interacting with his parents, Karen and Franklin. After an incident at his birthday party, the Exkorns could no longer deny there was a problem.
On his second birthday, Jake's friends were playing and laughing but Jake was nowhere to be found.

"All the kids were playing and laughing and he [Jake] was supposed to have his birthday cake," Karen Exkorn said. "I couldn't find him, and I went up and I found him lying facedown in the driveway."

Jake was diagnosed with pervasive developmental disorder, a form of autism. Autism is a collection of neurologically based developmental disorders that impair social interaction and communication skills and are associated with repetitive behaviors or interests, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The disorder affects one out of every 166 children and usually appears before the age of 3. The number of diagnosed cases is increasing, up to 17 percent a year.

"I thought that we had lost him forever," Exkorn said.

Yet, within two years of his diagnosis, Jake had "recovered" from autism.
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  • #2
Well, I can't access the rest of the story because of my web tv, but several years ago I saw a similar claim made on a TV program. The kid in question was a teenager and the whole show was an interview with him, and his mother and father.

My impression was that he hadn't really "recovered" at all, just made some excellent strides in opening up to the world around him, and in discovering connections between things that had eluded him for most of his childhood. I've seen interviews with Temple Grandin, and I can't say this teen I saw was any more "recovered" than her.
  • #3
Without meeting the kid in person and observing his behavior both when the diagnosis was first made and now, there's no way for me to know if he's really recovered or just learned to cope with his disease, or if there was an initial misdiagnosis. I've met Temple Grandin and she functions very well in public. If you didn't know she was autistic, you might just assume the few symptoms she still shows are just personality quirks. However, she is aware of her autism and knows that even though she can outwardly appear fairly normal, she doesn't feel all that normal. Things bother her that others wouldn't even notice, like a string caught on a fence and flapping in the wind.
  • #4
There are a lot of infectious agents that are not yet recognized, and a viral infection that attacks the nervous system in a small child could mimic the symptoms of autism. A heavy therapy regimen, similar to reprogramming, could build a new reality construct for a kid like this, provided the infection had subsided.

The other thing is the relationship between the parent and the child. Children can be amazingly intelligent, and accidentally be given information that is devastating to the immature mind, that can not properly sort it out. So Mom is in the kitchen, and discusses with a friend that she really wishes she had not gotten pregnant with the child, and what a burden it is she felt like she was going to die when she found out. She thought having a second child, or child would kill her. Listening on the stairwell is a brilliant two year old, who decides he or she must die to save Mommy, but they don't know how, and neither can they verbalize that this is their plan. Hence they are found face down on the driveway on the occasion of their birthday.

All kinds of reflexive things happen, due to moments that seem innocuous to everyone else but the victim of them. Many parents seem to think it is enough to feed and clothe small kids and take them to daycare, and otherwise, they are on the phone, watching TV, working at home, or talking to other adults. I am amazed that there isn't more "out and out insanity" in small children left to their own devices in this video world.

It was different in the agrarian world, where there was the out of doors and the sensible progression of day to night, seasonal activity to seasonal activity. A child would see seed grow to berry, and seed grow to corn, and help their parents make a world. Now everything is occult, little children can't know about work and money and the absences of their parents, and their parent's level of distraction. I am not an advocate of stay at home mothering, I am an advocate of bi-parental commitment to the security, and intellectual development of children, in a safe environment populated for the most part, by family.

It is pretty clear that Autism is a serious situation, and once the initial genetic damage is done to cause it, it is genetically imparted to the next generation. It does not go away, however it can be mitigated by careful education, and environment.

Ergo, the kid in question here, was never autistic.
  • #5
I think there is a lot more effort now to put labels on behavior than there was when I was growing up. The more we learn the more we can categorize and the more we will try to categorize, even if occasionally we ended up shoe-horning someone into a diagnosis. I think there is every possibility that happened here.
I might tick some people off by saying this, but the diagnosis of autism or Asperger's in children seems to have become almost fashionable in some places. I remember a person I work with talking about his two-year-old who had just been diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome. He said he figured it would happen. He blamed it on he and his wife being so intelligent - on their "geek genes". I assume this was vaguely influenced by articles like" .
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  • #6
That article in Wired magazine got the attention of researchers who then followed up by studying if there really was an autism cluster. I don't have the references now (I could find them if needed), but no association was found. The apparent increase in incidence was attributed to improvements in diagnosing children earlier. It used to be difficult to diagnose Asperger's or Autism until children were missing developmental milestones in things like talking.

Related to Autism recovery or initial misdiagnosis?

What is autism recovery?

Autism recovery refers to the improvement or elimination of symptoms associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). It is a controversial term, as some individuals argue that autism cannot be cured or recovered from, while others believe that certain interventions can lead to significant improvements in symptoms.

Is it possible for someone to recover from autism?

There is no clear consensus among experts on whether it is possible for someone to fully recover from autism. Some individuals with ASD may experience significant improvements in symptoms and function, but this does not necessarily mean that they have fully recovered. However, with early and intensive interventions, many individuals with autism can learn valuable skills and lead fulfilling lives.

What is initial misdiagnosis of autism?

Initial misdiagnosis of autism occurs when a child is diagnosed with ASD, but later it is determined that they do not actually have the disorder. This can happen for a variety of reasons, such as the child exhibiting behaviors that are similar to those seen in autism, but are actually caused by a different condition.

How common is initial misdiagnosis of autism?

The exact prevalence of initial misdiagnosis of autism is not known, but it is estimated to occur in about 10-20% of cases. This is because ASD can be difficult to diagnose, and some behaviors associated with autism can also be seen in other developmental disorders and conditions.

What should I do if I suspect my child has been misdiagnosed with autism?

If you have concerns that your child has been misdiagnosed with autism, it is important to seek a second opinion from a qualified medical professional. An accurate diagnosis is crucial for providing appropriate interventions and support for your child. It may also be helpful to gather all previous assessments and evaluations to share with the new provider.

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