Published on January 27th, 2013 | by matt0
You’ll grow out of it
There have recently been a large amount of articles and social media responses written about the media coverage of a new paper published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. The article can be read in full on line here and is named “Optimal outcome in individuals with a history of autism”. The controversy stems from the way that the majority of media has interpreted the study clashing with the way that the ASD community see’s autism.
Unfortunately for many with ASD the phrases “you’ll grow out of it” or “isn’t there a cure yet” are all too common. To grow out of autism or be cured of asperger’s, whilst some may think of as a good thing, is not a reality.
The misunderstanding of autism spectrum disorder and how it is regarded in the mainstream is a big problem, and articles like these are often contributors. We know autism is not a disease or a problem that just affects children. Whilst it can be hard for people to see autism as a state of being and a neurological archetype, this is exactly what it is. The problems lie in the perception of people who are autistic.
Autism is simply not something that cannot be cured. Instead of seeing the traits of high functioning autism (HFA), where people generally do not have the severe delays in communication development that are part of classic autism, as symptoms that can be cured – we need to realise that they are certain ways of responding to and interacting with the world that can be understood. This understanding leads to changing patterns of behaviour in responses, but will not change the way the autistic brain processes the information.
In the world of media, seeing autism as a simple problem that can be “fixed” makes better headlines and ignores the problems that many people with both classic autism and HFA or milder ASD will face in life. The flaws in the study quite obviously show this. The test subjects that would have previously been diagnosed and then not meet the criteria for having a diagnosis after the study – the optimal group – had all shown higher competence in socialising and higher cognitive functioning than those who did not show differences in their original diagnosis.
The majority of those in the optimal outcome group had also had help and support in earlier years, and the study also not the symptoms and characteristics had not disappeared, but were basically being better managed.
If anything, this study reinforces that autism is something that needs more understanding, specialist training, and advocacy. This site is dedicated to getting autistic spectrum disorders more widely understood, and we hope that journalists and editors aiming for an easy headline will learn from the responses from the autistic community.
A selection of articles written on the topic, some of which do a good job in disseminating the study and the lacklustre media responses, some of which are fairly bad.
Original study - http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jcpp.12037/abstract
Independent article – http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/children-can-grow-out-of-autism-psychologists-say-challenging-the-established-view-that-it-is-a-permanent-incurable-condition-8452847.html
BBC article – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-21029593