Losing the Autism Diagnosis
When Deborah Fein first met “Catherine,” the 13-month-old child was almost completely nonverbal. She avoided eye contact, did not respond to her name, and displayed little facial expression – all classic signs of autism, a complex developmental disease that affects 1 in 110 births in the United States.
Yet after five months of targeted intervention with a home-based therapist, Catherine, who had a regressive form of autism spectrum disorder, began recovering some of the communication and social skills she had lost. Fein, Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Pediatrics at UConn, was intrigued.
By age three, Catherine was doing well enough to enroll in a private preschool for typically developing children where, with additional support, she continued to progress. By age five, Catherine was enrolled in a public school kindergarten with no autism diagnosis, no individualized education plan, and no ongoing specialized interventions of any kind.
Now, years later, Fein’s research into recovery from autism has brought her international attention and offered hope to thousands of parents around the globe.