Psychoanalysis Helps Kids With Autism
Researchers Say Psychoanalysis Should Be Part of Treatment for Children With Autism
WebMD News Archive
Is Autism Reversible?
Sherkow and others believe that autism may be reversible with early
intervention -- including psychoanalysis. The theory is that the brain is more
malleable than previously believed and can be reconfigured with proper
To that end, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is now urging
pediatricians to screen every child for autism twice by age 2. Some early red
flags include: not turning when a parent calls the baby's name; not turning to
look when the parent says, "Look at that" and not pointing themselves
to show parents an interesting object or event; a lack of back-and-forth
babbling; smiling late; and failure to make eye contact with people.
"Autism was considered a brain condition that can't be changed, and I
think that is now dated and not right," says Martha Herbert, MD, a
pediatric neurologist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.
And this is just not the case anymore.
"I have seen enough kids do substantially better than when they came in,
and I think we can no longer assume that autism is not reversible, but we don't
know whether it is reversible for everyone or subgroups," she says.
"The real gauntlet it throws down is that if some kids can get a lot better
and you don't know which ones it will be, how do you justify limited
Now if a definitive diagnosis is made, the child should be in intensive
intervention at least 25 hours per week, 12 months per year, according to the
"We used to have soccer moms and now we have therapy moms," Herbert
tells WebMD. "Moms are running themselves into the ground and yet they are
not really present, so they become part of the process and not part of
Parents of children with autism need to relate to the child in whatever
state they are in -- and this is where psychoanalysis may be helpful, she
Psychoanalysts can be sensitive to the inner world of the child. "It's a
skill you can't package, but it's wonderful," Herbert says.