A new study suggests that 38% of children who were once labeled autistic no longer have that label. The study doesn't make it clear how many of those children were professionally evaluated and diagnosed - nor does it dig into the question of how parents know their child is no longer autistic.
What the study does do, though, is raise the question - were at least some of those children actually cured?
The question of whether autism can be cured is a tricky one. Underlying that question are other, even trickier questions:
- What causes autism?
- What does a cure look like (is it a behavioral change, or a change in the way the brain works)?
- Does it "count" as a cure if a child is no longer labeled autistic but still has diagnoses such as social anxiety, speech delay and sensory dysfunction -- which look an awful lot like autism?
- What if a child's autistic-like symptoms were caused by an underlying physical problem (food allergies, for example) - and that physical problem was effectively treated? Was the child cured of autism -- or is he just avoiding gluten?