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Autism Treatments - Keeping a Disciplined but Open Mind

Posted Sep 12 2008 3:23am

The USAAA conference, Treating Autism as a Medical Disorder; Bringing Biomedical Treatments and Behavioral & Developmental Therapies Together, starts today in Boulder Colorado. When I first commented on the conference and the press release announcing that a major autism study would be disclosed I received a comment from a Neurodiversity blogger who asked whether I was now embracing "quackery". For the record, I have never accepted, to date, the evidence of a vaccine/ thimerosal link. In my home province here in New Brunswick I have received criticism in the past for commenting on the shortfalls in the vaccine theories and for speaking against "conferences" at which unproven biomedical products are sold. My son does not receive any biomedical treatment, no medication, no dietary supplement. He does not receive HBOT ( Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment) or stem cell treatment. Conor receives Applied Behavior Analysis, ABA, intervention because, despite the fervent ideological opposition of the Neurodiversity movement, there are hundreds of studies demonstrating gains for autistic children receiving ABA intervention.

I have not embraced, to use the term offered by the ND blogger, biomedical treatments for my son's autism disorder. That does not prevent me though from keeping an open mind about biomedical, or any other autism interventions, if further studies provide evidence of their effectiveness. By open mind I do not mean an unquestioning, accepting, approach. I will try to take an open minded but disciplined approach to new studies and new evidence concerning autism treatments and interventions. If new studies and evidence are presented showing that interventions are effective then I will be prepared to examine the evidence, with the assistance of professionals in the field, and I will be prepared to change my personal assessment of a particular autism intervention.

Two interventions which have shown some promise as autism interventions are stem cell therapy and HBOT ( Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment). There is also anecdotal evidence of parents who swear by chelation as an effective autism treatment. None of the evidence of these interventions rises to the level, in my mind, of evidence based effective interventions for autism - to date. I do not know what intervention will be the subject of the study to be announced today. My guess was that the report will focus on HBOT but if you know my record on predicting the outcome of sporting events (I picked France over Italy in the World Cup, Ottawa over Anaheim in the Stanley Cup) you should probably assume that it will NOT be about HBOT. Regardless of what intervention turns out to be the subject of the study I intend to approach the announcement and the results of the study with an open but disciplined mind. Not out of desperation as some of the ND ideologues like to chant about parents seeking new treatments for their children's autism; but because it makes no sense to make a final decision about potentially helpful new treatments and to refuse to consider new evidence. It just does not make sense to close your mind forever on such important issues.

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