Understanding autism
Understanding autism

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1.1 Optimal outcomes

Some recent research does provide provisional evidence that a small proportion of autistic children achieve an ‘optimal outcome’ in adulthood (Fein et al., 2013). This means that their symptoms have modified to such an extent that they no longer meet the diagnostic criteria for autism, though they may retain subtle differences in thinking style. The research suggests that such an outcome is most likely following early intensive treatment or intervention. However, it is not yet clear what characteristics distinguish those who achieve an optimal outcome from those who do not. You will read more about this in Week 7.

Of course, the idea of an optimal outcome could also be seen as disrespectful to autistic people – who is it that decides what an ‘optimal’ outcome is? Alex, whom you have met in earlier weeks, has overcome many challenges while growing up, and leads a full life, studying, working and driving his own car. In this clip, he reflects on strengths that are part of his identity as an autistic person.

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