A small percentage of individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) may go on to lose core symptoms of the diagnosis and achieve “optimal outcomes.” Helt et al. (2008) defined an individual with an optimal outcome as having a history of an ASD diagnosis, demonstrating average or above average academic and adaptive functioning, receiving minimal special education supports specific to autism symptoms, and not meeting criteria for a diagnosis of ASD diagnosis as determined by administration of the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS).
Lovaas (1987) pioneered the study of “recovery” from ASD when he reported strong cognitive and academic outcomes in a small sample of individuals with high-functioning ASD following early, intensive behavioral intervention. Since Lovaas’ study, a number of researchers have carried out further studies of recovery from ASD with stronger experimental designs and more comprehensive measures of outcome (e.g., Fein et al. 2013; Sallows and...