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'My son had autism. Then he didn't.'

One dad's story.

By Parenting Magazine Jan 28, 2013 1:52AM

I'm trying to hold him, but he's squirming. The airport lounge is packed with people, and I can feel all eyes on me: the dad who cannot appease his toddler. Brandy sees me struggling and comes up with a quick fix. She flips over the stroller. She places Jackson next to it. He begins to spin one of the wheels with his hand. He keeps spinning it. Over and over and over. He's completely absorbed. I look at Brandy quizzically. She shrugs.

Baby with sorting blocks // Photo: Veer via Parenting.com

Jackson was 3 years old at the time, and by all accounts—from mother’s intuition to the experts’ definition—he was on the spectrum. The behavioral psychologists saw what we saw but were hesistant to make an official diagnosis. His brain is still developing. So much can change in six months. So time passed. His clothes went from 4T to 5T. Birthday candles were lit, blown out, and saved in the kitchen drawer. By age 6, the appointments with the behavioral psychologists were over. The autism books came off my wife's nightstand. Our tears were redirected to other things like kindergarten graduations.
From Healthy Living: Study says for some children, autism symptoms fade
It's a mystery we still don't understand. Did he have autism and develop out of it? Did he ever have autism? Slowly but surely, experts are unraveling this developmental disorder, and yesterday a small but groundbreaking study may just prove that Jackson is not alone.
Bing: Can autism just go away?
The study, funded by the National Institute of Health, researched 34 individuals ages 8 to 21 who had been diagnosed with autism early in life. The study found that they no longer had the symptoms. The conclusion: Some people may age out of autism. Of course, the autism community is buoyed by the findings, but are cautious to say this is a common outcome. 
More: 10 moms changing the face of autism
Let's add to this discussion a study that appeared in Pediatrics last year. It focused on 61 children aged 14 to 35 months who were on the spectrum. Two years after their initial diagnosis, 20 percent of those children no longer met the ASD criteria, which suggests that either the children are improving or were misdiagnosed from the start.
Meanwhile, the prevalence of autism has consistently been on the rise. In 1998, it was 1 in 1,000. In 2002, it was 1 in 150. Today, it's 1 in 88. Is it our increasing awareness that’s inflating those figures? Is something mutating in our DNA? Does it lurk in our air or cleaning products or groundwater?
More from Healthy Living: What is autism, exactly?
That’s the thing with autism: There is no pathology. It’s not in the blood. Biopsies don’t detect it. It doesn’t appear when you shine a penlight into the pupil. It makes perfect sense that this disorder is represented in awareness campaigns by a puzzle piece.
More: Why I give my 9-year old pot
For our family, the autism spectrum was like the Alaskan winter. There was no light. The darkness went on and on and on. Then one day, a yolk-hued color broke across the horizon. And it stayed. But we haven't forgotten what the darkness was like.

By Shawn Bean at Parenting.com

More from Parenting.com:

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61Comments
Jan 28, 2013 11:27AM
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Can autism go away? Through Christ, yes. Through the "things of this world", no.

Jan 28, 2013 10:17AM
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I am old enough that I missed being diagnosed. Only at the age of 64 was I able to find out why I was such a failure. No friends. Never married or dated much. Terrible in school, (but not stupid). Job hopper. Never came anywhere close to meeting my potential. Most of what we read is about autism in children. But it exists in adults too. And it is devastating to those who are otherwise high functioning. Doubly so if you've never been diagnosed and everyone thinks you are just a "loser".
Jan 28, 2013 9:01AM
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Autism is too-often used as a catch-all diagnosis, parents need to insist on the proper diagnosis. 
Jan 28, 2013 8:35AM
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We were one of those families blessed with the fact our son had a diagnosis of Autism and overcame most of his spectrum disorders with age and hard work on behalf of my wife and all his hab providers! If your child is having issues do not sit idle in shock, get early intervention ASAP and be an advocate for your child's needs. You never know what is possible until you try, and if nothing else you will know in your heart you did everything possible and not question yourself for the rest of your life.
Jan 28, 2013 8:18AM
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that is an uplifting story...i would so love to be able to understand my 8 yr old

grandson when i am watching him..however it is improving but at a snails pace!!!

Hopefully some answers will come !!!  I love you Aaron

 

Jan 28, 2013 7:56AM
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I have Mild Autism for 21 years and it never goes away. I am an artist and a author, to me it's a gift, with out my mild Autism I wouldn't have the talent of doing sketch artwork nor write nor talk. 
 Also Autism is just a story, when I say story I mean I see books that talks about autism and it tells about it differently. 
I accept autism and I have high hopes that they'll be some out there that understands my autism and accepts it. 
Jan 28, 2013 7:42AM
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The article offers me hope as I'm sure it does many parents with autistic children.   My son was diagnosed at 3, and at 14 he is DEFINITELY still autistic.  He hasn't grown out of anything.  His mother and I pray he will be able to take care of himself as an adult someday.
Jan 28, 2013 7:30AM
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I was diagnosed with Asperger's when I was 8, by a state registered psychologist who also told me I was retarded and would never amount to anything. I could never sit still, I was socially awkward, got into things I shouldn't have, and I could never get work done, and was constantly bullied. As a 19 year old college student who is now thriving with a multitude of hobbies and plans for the future, I can safely say I don't exhibit ANY of those symptoms anymore, and my parents agree. All of the doctors were wrong. I agree, autism can go away!
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