At least one in 10 children burdened by autism eventually recover, but no one knows why, according to a new study. Psychology professor Deborah Fein presented the results at a conference in Chicago this week, saying parents ought to know, even though recovery is "not a realistic expectation for the majority of kids." Previous research said 3% to 25% of autistic kids recover; Fein puts the range between 10% and 20%.
Naysayers maintain that autistic children who recover "really weren't autistic to begin with" or "don't exactly meet criteria" for autism, says Fein, who insists kids in her study "really were" autistic and now are "really not." She is continuing her research to see what traits recovered kids share and how their brains look. But she concedes that formerly autistic children often have other disorders, like phobias, tics, and ADD.