After An Autism Diagnosis, Why Do Some Children "Bloom" And Others Do Not?
For Release: April 2, 2012
most children diagnosed with autism retain the diagnosis as
adolescents, there are substantial differences in their developmental
trajectories. Learning more about the pathways children take may help
illuminate how etiology, family characteristics and treatment can shape
the disorder. A study in the May 2012 issue of Pediatrics describes the
most common paths that children with autism take from the time they are
diagnosed through age 14.
The study, “Six Developmental Trajectories Characterize Children With Autism,”
published online April 2, examined autism symptoms that were recorded
annually for nearly 7,000 children with autism in California who were
born between 1992 and 2001. Researchers tracked the children’s
communication, social, and repetitive behavior trajectories. They found
some children improved rapidly, especially in communication and social
behaviors, whereas the trajectories of other children were slower and
less likely to reveal significant improvement. In contrast, children’s
repetitive behavior trajectories remained relatively stable. About 10
percent of children, identified in the study as “bloomers,” improved
especially quickly and moved from severely affected to high functioning.
Children on the highest trajectories tended to have been born in the
most recent cohorts; and to be born to more educated, white mothers.
Children whose parents are in the lowest socio-economic strata are much
less likely to bloom than those better advantaged. Given the
socioeconomic differences they found, study authors conclude equal
access to early intervention and treatment resources for less-advantaged
children is vital.
The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 60,000
primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and
pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and
well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more
information, visit www.aap.org.