One in 10 children with autism overcome the disorder by the time they are nine - often following years of intensive behavioural therapy, according to a study.
Professor Deborah Fein, of the University of Connecticut, looked at data on 58 children aged nine to 18, including 20 who were given a correct diagnosis initially but years later were no longer considered autistic.
The phenomenon has been questioned by sceptics, but Professor Fein is convinced it is real. Previous studies have suggested between 3% and 25% of autistic children recover, but Professor Fein said her studies have shown the range is actually 10%-20%.
Her research was hailed as a breakthrough by autism researcher Geraldine Dawson, chief science officer of the advocacy group Autism Speaks.
Even though several psychologists working in the clinical field have seen children who appear to recover, it has never been documented as thoroughly as Professor Fein’s work, Ms Dawson said.
However, Professor Fein advised parents of autistic children not to raise their hopes because, even after lots of therapy, most autistic children remain autistic.
Recovery is ‘not a realistic expectation for the majority of kids’, but parents should know it can happen, she said.