Outcome studies describe the progress of individuals with autism as they move through adolescence and into adulthood. Some such studies have followed up groups of individuals first diagnosed as children over a number of years; others have involved investigations of different individuals at different ages. Follow-up studies of the same individuals from child to adulthood are particularly informative as they allow the investigation of factors in early childhood that may help to predict outcome in later years.
The earliest studies of outcome in autism were conducted in the 1950s by Leon Eisenberg (a colleague of Leo Kanner) in USA and Mildred Creak in England. Eisenberg, writing in the 1950s, documented the wide variety of possible outcomes. Many of the individuals he described remained very dependent on others for support, but about one-third were found to have made at least a “moderate social adjustment,” despite the lack of any specialist provision or...
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