“The teacher said that my child doesn’t listen… The Speech and Language therapist said to use only one language… The DAN! Doctor wants my child to take… The OT said that the child needs practice… My in-laws say that nothing is wrong… I read something on the Internet about… Somebody-I-know-who-knew-someone-with-autism-who-got-better said…”
AutismSpeaks keeps telling us about genetics. Alternative doctors continue to offer chelation. NAET practicioners say that they can get rid of a child’s allergies and help autism. Chiropracters. Neurofeedback. Neuromuscular Reflex Integration. Hearing therapy. Hyperbaric Oxygen chambers, hard and soft.
Have you heard about the study on stem cells? Is that the same as IVIG? How about the research on Bumetanide, Spironolactone, Actos, Secretin, Namenda, Baclofen, Biotin, Folinic acid, NAC, DMG, TMG, SAM-e and B12 ‘shots‘? Do I know about MMS for autism?
The pediatrician wants to keep putting the child on antibiotics. The neurologist suggests Risperdal to improve behavior. The psychiatrist is thinking, “Abilify.” A teacher thinks that Adderall would do the trick. Intuniv is touted as a helpful medication. The dermatologist says that the rash is eczema. The allergist advises steroids. The gastroenterologist wants to do an endoscopic examination, and give Miralax in the meantime.
Parents are often counseled that stims should be ignored. The Son-rise program advises joining the child’s unusual repetitive behaviors. There are numerous supplements to address symptoms; including taurine, GABA, CoQ10, carnitine, carnosine, vitamins and minerals. Speak™ for speech. True Focus for focus. There are protocols for immune system support, G-I system support, and brain support. Want more? Treatments have been advocated using fecal transplants and even parasitic worms.
Then, there are the diets. GF/CF, The Some-Other-Food-Specific Diet, Low Yeast Diet, The Blood Type Diet, Low Oxalate Diet, Specific Carbohydrate Diet, The Feingold Diet, Organic foods, and Dr. Udell’s diet. Oy vey.
Studies have shown that ASD patients can get better, and we know people who have. Older literature indicates that individuals don’t really lose the diagnosis, a self-fulfilling prophecy that explains such a belief. The cause has been ascribed to inflammation, the environment, mercury, lead, aluminum, plastic, etc. Research indicates that the problem is mostly in the brain, while distinguished professor Martha Herbert teaches that ASD is a whole-body disorder.
Hello! Is it any wonder that parents are so confused about what to do with a non-typically developing child? We can’t even agree on a diagnosis. Is it Asperger’s, ASD, Severe, High Functioning or PDD-NOS? Parents come to our practice all of the time with developmental problems that you just can’t put your finger on. It isn’t the ADHD of the olden days, or the speech delay, or just oppositional behavior. The broadest category is “non-typical” – not what you would expect. For now, anyway. More precise diagnoses among the various professional organizations and disciplines will only serve to hasten effective intervention(s).
There will be additional theories offered, and sometimes treatments may work. But others may make patients worse. And some children who could have improved – even on their own – may deteriorate because of the wrong line of thinking, whether intervention is conventional or alternative. At a juncture so critical as this, in the thick of the most important childhood epidemic of the 21st century, physicians need to lead and assist an increasingly learned public on how to proceed. If pediatricians do not investigate and practice new protocols, the families will proceed without them.
Parents and patients need guidance through such a complicated maze of opinions and treatments. A united front on autism will emerge as parents, educators, physicians, therapists, and other practitioners agree about their role in recovery of function. Doctors should be more knowledgeable and speak honestly with the families about how much we do not know, what doesn’t work, what could be harmful and what is just too expensive without acceptable statistics proving benefit.
All treatments need to be assessed with scientific scrutiny and with empathy. That doesn’t mean alternative and complementary treatments should wait. Sometimes, physicians have to prescribe pretty strong medications to very disruptive children in order for the family (and the unfortunate patient) to get relief. On the other hand, let’s not get too upset with parents who try a GF/CF diet when there exists the myriad of treatments such as those listed here.
Parents need to find honest practioners with lots of experience who can analyze and properly utilize all of the possible protocols and recommend a reasonable and safe course for each affected individual.