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INTRODUCTION. Research into autism, based mainly on the categorical model in the Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, has focused above all on the epidemiology, clinical manifestations, cognitive mechanisms and the biological-environmental determining factors. Yet, little attention has been paid to the developmental trajectories, which play a decisive role when it comes to establishing a medium- and long-term prognosis. AIMS. The purpose of this study is to review the developmental course of children diagnosed with autism who, despite preserving behavioural traits consistent with the initial profile in the medium- and long-term, accomplish a satisfactory social and occupational adaptation, and additionally no longer meet the criteria that gave rise to the initial diagnosis. DEVELOPMENT. A review was conducted of the bibliography on autism focused on the analysis of the development of the clinical manifestations and their repercussions from the earliest ages to adulthood. Likewise, we have also taken into consideration conceptual aspects about autism that facilitate the comprehension and the meaning of the developmental patterns.
CONCLUSIONS. Around 20% of the children diagnosed with autism cease to meet the criteria on which their diagnosis was based and, furthermore, achieve a satisfactory social and occupational adjustment. The following were identified as favouring factors: normal intelligence, good level of language and low incidence of ‘comorbidities’; conversely, in the series that were reported, early and intensive therapeutic interventions were not shown to be determining factors. Lastly, mention is made of the concept of neurodiversity, where recovery is centred on the optimal development of each individual’s capacities within a facilitating environment.