I have often wondered what the term recovery from autism really means. Most autism treatments do not make this claim. Some ABA providers make this claim, as do some biomedical proponents.
I am not going to comment on biomedical treatments because I have little experience with them nor much belief that they work beyond a gluten-free/casein free diet (In my personal experience only makes autism "better" by making children who have GI issues feel better. This is not the same as "recovering" from the core deficits of autism.)
This recent article by Adrienne Perry, one of my favourite local autism researchers, finally breaks it down for me. According to her study, she defines "best outcome" as:
- Testing in the non-autistic range on the CARS.
- Testing 85 or higher in IQ - that would be "low average", or in the 16th (or higher) percentile.
- Testing 85 or higher in Adaptive Behaviour Composite on the Vineland-II Adaptive Behaviour Scales. This would mean the child is functioning at the 16th percentile or higher overall in their age group. Note this includes social ability.
I think this is something of a misnomer because any "recovered" child with autism has more or less learned how to overcome their disability. But the disability is still there. For example, the CARS will ask if a child is distracted by visual stimuli. A child who has "fallen off the spectrum" may still be distracted but know how to control the distraction, or at least not do it when people are looking. It may not mean they've lost interest altogether.
Recovery or not, I think I personally need to get my head around the fact that autism will affect Alanna her entire life, and accepting that fact is not the same as giving up on her. It's a hard pill to swallow. I haven't taken it yet... but I'm trying.