Did you know that up to half of children diagnosed with autism can recover if they are treated very aggressively with ABA therapy when they are very young? It was first shown that kids with autism could become indistinguishable from their peers in a classic study done by Dr. Ivar Lovaas published in 1986. That was 30 years ago.
So, just to clarify, three decades ago some researchers knew that recovery from autism was possible using behavioral treatment yet, I bet this may be brand new information for you today.
I’ve known that ABA could lead to recovery for children for almost 2 decades now and I’m shocked that this is not commonly discussed in the media or known by many professionals and parents.
As you may know, my first-born son, Lucas was diagnosed with autism in 1999, one day before his third birthday. As Lucas was buckled in his car seat completely silent during the 1-hour drive home from the hospital in Philadelphia. My husband who was driving was saying things like, “I guess he’ll never go to college. He’ll never drive. He’ll never get married.” I was crying at that point and told him to be quiet. I told him that as I prepared for the appointment knowing Lucas that would most likely be diagnosed that day, I had read Catherine Maurice’s book, Let Me Hear Your Voice published in 1993 and I had learned that kids with autism diagnosed and treated aggressively starting at the age of 3 could recover.
In Let Me Hear Your Voice, Maurice reported that both of her children became “indistinguishable” from their peers after intensive ABA programming and said that, according to Dr. Ivaar Lovaas who set up the original ABA protocols, up to half of all children who receive ABA can get all better. They could become indistinguishable from their peers or recover from autism.
When I read those books back in 1999, I had tremendous hope and when the doctor diagnosed Lucas, he confirmed that an intensive ABA program was the best treatment for young children with autism. I specifically asked the doctor if Lucas could recover like the books had said. He told me that because Lucas had moderate to severe autism that he was not that optimistic; that if we would have brought him in earlier, maybe his chances for recovery might have been better.
The doctor basically said that he had seen kids get all better from autism, but those were more mildly affected kids. I still told my husband that we were going to start ABA 40 hours a week, that Lucas was going to recover, despite the odds, and that we were going to have a recovery party.
I talk about my desire for a recovery party in my book –The Verbal Behavior Approach. On the back cover of my book, Dr. Mark Sundberg (who wrote the forward) wrote: “The best book for parents since Let Me Hear Your Voice.”
According to Marina Sarris from the Interactive Autism Network, two nationwide large studies show that 4-13% of children lose their diagnosis by age 8 but often do keep other diagnoses such as language delay or ADHD. Children diagnosed before 30 months who had less severe symptoms had the best chance of recovery from autism.
I have worked with hundreds of kids with the diagnosis of autism and dozens of very young children with the signs of autism. Some of them have become indistinguishable. I have seen signs and symptoms of autism reversed and sometimes eliminated, especially when I’ve treated very young children.
Whether the recovery rate is 4% or 47%, it’s not 0 and the earlier you intervene the better.
Toddlers (1-3 year olds) who are at high risk or showing signs of autism but not yet diagnosed may be receiving early intervention services, may be waiting to be seen by a developmental pediatrician, or he or she may have a sibling or cousin who has been diagnosed with autism, putting them at much higher risk.
My mission is to teach parents how to intervene to help reverse autism symptoms in toddlers showing the earliest signs of the disorder. Have you read my 3-Step Guide yet? If not click the button below to learn more!