Recovery for Older Individuals

By Venkat
Posted February 17, 2015

Hi, Is autism treatment advised for a 25 year old person? Is there any possibility of being normal after treatments? Thank you for your advice.


Answered:  February 26, 2015 by Dr. Sidney Baker

Dear Venkat,
Human development flows in stages that last for months in the young and settles down to seven-year cycles as we age. In the early years there are windows of time for developing certain skills, such as language, so that learning to speak a second language without an accent hits a cutoff in adolescence. What can we think when an experienced professional declares that it is too late for an individual to achieve a certain skill or to become normal? On the one hand we must be grateful if it relieves us - or the individual we love - of false hope. On the other hand it may be said that hope is never false. 
Hope and the will it fosters is the basis of every step we take. If that is true then your question may be altered to ask what step can be taken to measure the potential of your 25 year old. The answer is to start with his or her strengths. A focus on all the ways in which he or she is disabled is inevitable. A focus finding and naming and leveraging a person’s strengths is, however, the key to opening your – and his or her – mind to the possibility of healing. Finding the key may depend on subtle hints having to do with music, memory, math, art, and movement that can remain hidden in a person with preoccupying difficulties. 
I have in mind the son of one of the great personalities in autism research in the 20th Century. He artistic talent was “discovered” when he was nearly an adult. The first step was simply the fresh eye of someone who saw him in a new light. Then the tools and encouragement enabling him to complete the discovery in his success as an artist opened the door to normal. We have to keep in mind that Nature’s most basic rule is the individuality of each living thing. We can then define normal in terms of fulfillment of our unique capacities – something that this man has beautifully achieved


We do have hope. I certainly hope it is possible to have improvement as an adult. As a child my son took 2 steps back for every step he took forward. At 18 he was such a mess that we considered an institution, but in the last 2 years he has improved pretty dramatically. At 22 he is beginning to use language; words we never knew he could pronounce. His behavior is calmer with many less meltdowns. He still has very far to go and it would surprise me for him to ever function as "normal" without some kind of miracle. But we do have hope.

My daughter is 7 years old and up until this year I prayed and hoped for when she will say 'mummy', write her own name, write from memory no 1-30, match like pictures and a lot of other things. But amazingly, all of these are happening. Miracles do indeed happen and I know many more awaits my family in the life of our beautiful daughter. One of the keys is tenacity and consistency in whatever they are being taught and in whatever milestone you need for them to attain.

My son is 48, and he has improved dramatically since he was 25, when he continued to have terrible meltdowns and spoke only in three-word sentences. At age 33, we started him on an ABA 1:1 intervention program. Today, he no longer has meltdowns, speaks in seven-word sentences and has a rather impressive vocabulary of words. He is still far from normal and has no special skills like the artist Dr. Baker describes. However, he is, for the most part, rather pleasant to have around and is happy and healthy, despite his disabilities

Dear bolanle Obioru. Thank you for your miracle story. I think all the members of Autism360 family would be grateful for a description of the approaches to which you gave your tenacity and consistency - and love - with such a good outcome. All the best Sid