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Can autism get worse?

Well, autism itself doesn’t get worse but as people get older and society expects more from them, the ability to meet that expectation can get harder.

My oldest son was a baby genius. At 3yrs old instead of saying “It’s raining” he would say “there is so much precipitation outside”😍. It was the cutest thing ever. No one thought of autism. Then around 6yrs old we noticed he didn’t like playing with other kids. He wasn’t mean about it, he just simply would rather play on his own. Again, was no big deal. But around 9yrs old we saw that not only did he not want to make friends; he also had a very hard time keeping the few friends he had. He began scripting and mouthing to himself. He wasn’t able to keep up a social conversation on a 9yr old level. And he was also falling behind academically.

As more and more expectations have been placed on him, we realize that he is having a hard time meeting them. This wasn’t a big deal at 3yrs old because much wasn’t expected.

In his case it would seem like his autism is getting worse…but in reality, meeting those societal expectations is getting harder.

Also, because there is more pressure to be socially normal at his age (now 12yrs) his stimming (scripting, self-talk, jumping) is getting worse. What is helping him are small social groups and homeschooling. Homeschooling relieves the pressure of attending school (and with COVID it seemed the right thing to do). Homeschooling also allows him to focus on his academics without sensory overload of 30 other people next to him. The small social groups are allowing him to build those social skills in a smaller more controlled way.

Building the tools, he will need to successfully live a full life is the most important thing I can do for him as a mom. Because he was diagnosed later in life, his journey is much different than my youngest son (who is nonverbal with acute learning delays). But he isn’t getting worse…the world is just getting a bit harder.

-Dr. Celeste Chamberlain

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