A reader writes:
I have now heard of the second person who claims that are totally 'recovered' from autism: (1) Michael Marino who is Dan Marino's son and now (2) Sean Barron whose book "There's a Boy in Here Emerging from the Bonds of Autism" I am reading. So, who do you think is correct? I have read that if a person completely 'recovers' from autism then they really never had it and now I have 2 people telling me that had it and are completely recovered form it. I am confused. Please advise.
This is a good question, and one that has no absolute answer. I can only give you my opinion.
Autism is a disorder that's diagnosed on the basis of behaviors, interviews and assessments; there is no medical test to be sure a diagnosis is accurate. People going through the process of diagnosis may function particularly well or poorly on the day of assessment, making it tough to know whether a diagnosis is absolutely correct. It's quite common for practitioners to legitimately differ on diagnosis (Asperger syndrome v. adhd v. non-verbal learning disorder, etc.).
In addition, it's perfectly possible to have symptoms associated with autism - and not be diagnosable because the symptoms are mild or there are not enough of them.
What's more, a person can have all the symptoms of autism, be diagnosed, and improve functioning only to the point of no longer being diagnosable as autistic. Yet that person can still have a whole lot of trouble with various issues such as social interaction, communication, etc., and be diagnosable with other related issues such as anxiety disorders, non-verbal learning disorder, sensory processing dysfunction, ADHD, etc.
In other words, it's not a simple yes/no diagnosis. It's possible to develop or "recover" many skills, do relatively well in the world, and yet still qualify for a diagnosis - or to lose the diagnosis and yet have a very hard time managing day to day.
In the world of autism, "recovery" doesn't necessarily mean "all better."