Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Optimal Outcomes

     Optimal outcomes.  I have just hit on the key idea and goal of our journey with autism.  We have been working towards it for years, and now it has gelled.  "Optimal Outcomes" is an area of research in autism.  I just read a journal article on it for a research project in my masters graduate program.  It defines what we are, and have been doing.  It defines the outcome we want.  It is also defines the dream, the hope, and the blood, sweat, and tears of our family for the last six years.

     "...between 3 and 25% of most cohorts appear to lose the diagnosis [of autism]."  Lose.  Gone.  No longer applies.  We have long suspected the possibility, and seen hints here and there.  We knew it happened for other kids, but we sometimes barely dared to hope.  We rarely dared to voice it.  Especially not to average professionals.  But we still worked towards it every day.

     Optimal outcomes.  It is in the research.  It is in the journals.  It is in a few of the books when you look closely.  Never guaranteed, but often sought.  Are we crazy?  No!

     How does this happen?  "Optimal outcome parents were generally highly involved in the children's treatment programs and in their social lives.  Parents who advocate vigorously for the best interventions and who carry over treatments into other hours of the day do not guarantee the kind of Optimal Outcomes we describe here, but may maximize the chance of one."  Another cited study reported it's finding that, "....about 18% of the children diagnosed at age 2 and receiving mostly behavioral intervention had lost the diagnosis by age 4."  We have missed that early intervention window, but since we are still going on a great behavioral intervention program, and making excellent gains, we feel we are still in the running to lose the diagnosis by the end of high school.  If not before.

     What does this mean?  Well, it means both nothing and everything.  Nothing is confirmed, yet everything is possible.  Nothing is lost, and there is everything to gain.  When looking deeply into the research article I saw that Alex meets the standards for Optimal Outcome potential.  He is verbal.  He has enough IQ.  He has enough desire for social interaction.  We will keep going with the behavioral interventions.  We will keep on being deeply involved with his social life.  We will take this for the marathon that it is.   We will not stop.  And in the end, we will find an optimal outcome of one kind, or another.