Question: Are there certain periods during which children with autism seem to do either better or worse?
Answer: Oftentimes people will also ask a question about whether there are certain times in a child's life when he or she will do better or worse, and the answer again is a very difficult one in the context of how much variability there is from one person to another, even though they may share the same diagnosis of autism.
We know that early in a child's life, perhaps shortly after the diagnosis has been given, can be a time of tremendous growth and development. And so those early years can be a period when we might expect substantial change. Indeed, if there is any certainty in life, it is that there is likely to be change, and transitions can also pose opportunities or also challenges for kids with autism.
So, moving into the school-age years and trying to navigate some different expectations in school, and later on, as a child navigates adolescence, we might expect some bumps in the road. Many parents worry a lot about adolescents, trying to predict, 'If it's so difficult now, can we only imagine what we're looking at in the future.'
And our experience has been that adolescence is not necessarily a time of crisis for children with autism, and in fact, may actually be a time when there are lots of improvements that we can expect. The transition from adolescence to adulthood is also a time of opportunity, and one where we might see movement in any direction.
Overall, I think the advice, as we think about accompanying our children through life's journey, is that change is inevitable, the more that we can anticipate problems that may arise, the better prepared we can be to handle those problems, and overall, most kids weather that journey very well.