Is It Autism? First Signs & Important Treatments

Is Autism Curable?

Autism is a genetic disorder, so a child with autism will be autistic for life. But some kids -- maybe 15 to 20 percent -- who start intensive early intervention by age 3 or 4 eventually lose their diagnosis and "fall off the spectrum." What does that mean? For Julie Cole of Ontario, Canada, it means that her son, Mack, 9, who was nonverbal at age 3, now has friends, is a B student, and, for the most part, blends in with his peers.

"Some kids develop to the point where they have normal IQ scores and are on par with their peers academically," Dr. Fisher says. "But even kids who do really well may still have some signs, although they may no longer meet the diagnostic criteria."

Unfortunately, there's no way to determine which child will be in that 15 to 20 percent. Strombeck-Goodrich is living with that uncertainty now. "I didn't know if we'd ever hear Lance speak again," she says. She's been using the picture-card system, and Lance recently started talking. "He had a language explosion," Strombeck-Goodrich gushes. "Now he says 25 to 30 words. We're crazy excited."

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